Two days after learning that she had been nominated for a second Academy Award, Octavia Spencer was back in the limelight today when she came to Harvard to receive the Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ 2017 Woman of the Year award.
The veteran film and television actress, whose latest Oscar nomination is for best supporting actress for her role in the film “Hidden Figures,” was presented with her pudding pot at Farkas Hall during a day of irreverent festivities in her honor that included a parade through the streets of Cambridge, a celebratory roast, some raucous skits performed with Hasty Pudding members, and a live-streamed press conference.
Reflecting on her eventful week during the press conference, Spencer called the Academy Award nomination a “big surprise.”
“And then to find out a week ago that I would be here celebrating with you guys … I feel overwhelmingly blessed.”
The Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the oldest theatrical organization in the country, has been awarding its pudding pot annually since 1951 to performers who have made lasting and impressive contributions to entertainment. A Man of the Year award is also presented, with actor Ryan Reynolds set to receive it next month.
“This is so humbling,” Spencer said, asked what it was like to join such past award recipients as Elizabeth Taylor and Lucille Ball. “It came out of left field.”
In “Hidden Figures,” which is based on a true story, Spencer plays the leader of a team of three African-American female mathematicians, or “human computers,” who made significant contributions to the success of NASA during the early 1960s.