Perspectives

Octavia Spencer, '94, recipient of AU lifetime achievement award 

Octavia Spencer at a press conference in Montgomery, Alabama, in 2012The Auburn Alumni Association announced their 2020 lifetime and young alumni awards and among them is College of Liberal Arts graduate Octavia Spencer, an award-winning actress, author and producer. 

Spencer earned a degree in English from Auburn in 1994, and was also selected as an Auburn Alumni Association Young Alumni Award recipient in 2012. 

Spencer made her film debut in “A Time to Kill” in 1996, but her breakthrough came in 2011, when she starred as Minny Jackson in the period film “The Help,” which won Best Supporting Actress awards from the Academy Award (Oscars), Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the British Academy of Film and Theatre Arts (BAFTA) and the Critics’ Choice Movie Award. In 2017, her performance as mathematician Dorothy Vaughan in the drama “Hidden Figures” received Best Supporting Actress nominations from the Academy Awards, Golden Globe and SAG. She had a critically acclaimed performance in the 2013 drama “Fruitvale Station,” for which she received the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress. 

Spencer cemented her standing as one of Hollywood’s premier talents with her performance in the 2017 fantasy drama “The Shape of Water,” earning Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actress. In January 2018, it was announced Spencer would star in a dramatic thriller titled “Are You Sleeping?” On television, she has appeared in episodes of "ER," "NYPD Blue," "Medium," "The Big Bang Theory," "Dharma & Greg" and "Ugly Betty."

Spencer is a life member of the Auburn Alumni Association.

The other winners of the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Awards are William E. Barrick ’68, Jere Locke Beasley Sr. ’59, and Joe Wallace Forehand Jr. ’71. The young alumni recipient is Dion Marlene Aviki ’04. The recipients will be honored at a dinner and ceremony Feb. 29, 2020, at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center.

Click here to read the full announcement. 

Photo taken by Jeff Etheredge, AU photographic Services

Last Updated: October 11, 2019