Oscar-nominee Octavia Spencer.
There has been a lot of discussion in Australia about “blackface”. There was even an article in The New York Times about how it’s still not taboo in this country. Where do you stand on the issue? It’s all about the spirit of why something is being done. Any type of finger-pointing makes it hard for the offender to see how he or she is offending. I think it’s important how you approach correcting [those] situations. If it’s always met with outrage and not compassion, you’re just [being] accusatory. You have just been nominated for an Oscar – last year’s Academy Awards were criticised for a lack of diversity. Others argued against nominating people for the sake of tokenism. What’s your view? I think the debate is misplaced. The Oscars are at the end of the creative process. It’s how films are sold, bought and greenlit that should be under that microscope. They have to greenlight more films with diverse casts, and diversity isn’t just black; it’s African-american, Latin American, Asian, transgender, and people with special needs. If you look at a film and it doesn’t reflect what you see in your everyday life, something’s wrong. And if what you see in your everyday life is homogeneous, then something’s wrong. You famously wrapped up your own acceptance speech early when you won best supporting actress in 2012 for The Help. What do you remember about that? The only thing I remember is it felt interminable. From the time they ripped open that envelope, it felt like it took forever. I remember not being able to move when I heard my name. Everything else is a blur. Your new film, Hidden Figures, is based on the true story of three African-american women who worked at NASA. Did you have to brush up on your math skills? I’m so grateful that I didn’t; I hated calculus. But when you’re getting inside the spirit of another person, you have to try to think like them. [My character] was taught at a very young age how to disassemble and reassemble a car. She could fix anything. [During filming] it was so hot, they brought me this box fan that had to be assembled. Normally I would just send it off to the production office to put together, but I tried to do it myself, with only a little butter knife. It started failing in the first week – it was terrible. But I felt proud that I actually did that. What are you going to do differently when you win the Oscar for Hidden Figures? From your mouth to God’s ears! Right now, we’re just really wanting it to be a successful movie, more so for the women, for the girls who are inclined to be in the STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] programs. Now you’re a massive Hollywood star, is it easier or harder to date? [Laughs] Well, I am not a massive Hollywood star – thank God – because it would be harder to breathe, let alone date. I think the more visible you are, the harder it is to allow yourself intimacy until you really get to know someone. But you know, you gotta kiss a lot of frogs to find that prince, and these days I’m too old for a prince… I need a king! Hidden Figures is in cinemas on February 16.
``they have to greenlight films with more diversity´´