The actress-producer will be honored at the Producers Guild Awards in January.
Actress-producer Octavia Spencer will be honored with the Visionary Award at the 2020 Producers Guild Awards, it was announced today.
The honor recognizes producers in TV, film and new media who share inspiring, uplifting stories that add distinct value to society and culture.
“As both an actor and as a producer, Octavia has provided her keen vision to an array of poignant stories across drama, comedy and everything in between,” PGA presidents Gail Berman and Lucy Fisher said in a statement. “She understands how to harness the power of filmmaking to inspire audiences everywhere with stories that showcase undeniable human truths and emotion.” Spencer added: “It is an honor to receive the PGA Visionary Award. From the very beginning of my career in entertainment, I have been guided by my dream to create an impact through storytelling. This is an incredible highlight for me, and I extend my deepest thanks to the PGA for this award.”
Spencer, who will next be seen on Apple TV+'s Truth Be Told series, executive produced the most recent best picture winner, Green Book, which this year also received the PGA Awards' Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Picture.
Her other credits include acting roles in The Help, for which she won an Oscar for best supporting actress; Hidden Figures; The Shape of Water; Fruitvale Station; Ma; and a recurring guest role on CBS' sitcom Mom. Spencer also executive produced Ma and served as a co-executive producer on Fruitvale Station.
“Octavia is a dynamic producer and performer who over her career, has proven herself to exemplify the spirit of this award," said PGA Awards executive producer Suzanne Todd. "Her ascent in the industry has been commensurate with her talent, and her next chapters will prove again how adept she is at injecting her compassion and integrity into the stories she tells and the characters she embodies.”
Spencer joins previous Visionary Award recipients Kenya Barris; Ava DuVernay; Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner's Plan B Entertainment; Chris Meledandri; Laura Ziskin; and Jeff Skoll.
The 31st annual Producers Guild Awards will take place on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020 at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles.
The title of Netflix’s miniseries “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker” implies that it’s not entirely a factual retelling of the pioneering entrepreneur, philanthropist, and activist’s life. In fact, the influence fundamental to Walker's remarkable story barely exists in this rather underwhelming jumble.
The one thing that’s clear is that writers Nicole Jefferson Asher and Elle Johnson working from a bio written by Walker's great-great-granddaughter A'Lelia Bundles and directors Kasi Lemmons and DeMane Davis want to tell a story that inspires and entertains. The degree to which they succeed in doing that is what’s ultimately in question. It’s pointless to critique creative license here, as many critics continue to do, so don’t expect much of a deep dive into the itinerant history of Walker’s business, which is highly abridged in the series, as are her philanthropic and social work. But what did end up on the screen is very awkward at best.
When we first meet star Octavia Spencer as Walker, it’s as a boxer in a boxing ring, draped in a satin robe, holding up her boxing gloves to apparently knock out whoever and whatever stands in her way, as an upbeat contemporary hip-hop track overwhelms. That it’s not L.L. Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” is actually one of the few smart choices made here. This somewhat cringeworthy motif is repeated throughout, almost serving as visual interstitials, because the series is set up as a title bout between Spencer’s Walker née Sarah Breedlove and Addie Munroe — a cartoonish reimagining of Walker's real-life rival Annie Malone, played by a typically reliable Carmen Ejogo as a “baddie” so over the top in her vindictiveness that she’s laughable. It unnecessarily belittles Malone, who established a significant and prominent commercial and educational venture for African-American women cosmetics.
But where “Self Made” ultimately fails, in four episodes that are each roughly 45 minutes to an hour long, is to give a very firm idea of who Walker was or how she built her empire. It instead relies too much on an unwarranted flair in order to tell, what on paper, is an already thrilling story of a black woman — born to former slaves just after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation — who eventually became the richest self-made woman in America of her time. There are more than enough tales of legendary rivalries and turbulent relationships in this mostly untold and highly unlikely story of the black hair care pioneer during turn-of-the-century America.
Additionally, instead of attempting to make “Self Made” hit several beats of Walker's life, it should have focused on a shorter, more significant time...