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With a cruise down Massachusetts Ave. in a Bentley convertible, Hasty Pudding Theatricals honored Octavia L. Spencer as its 2017 Woman of the Year Thursday.
Spencer, who has appeared in films including “Insurgent” and “The Help,” was recently named an Oscar contender for her supporting role in “Hidden Figures.” At Thursday’s celebration, Spencer was honored with a parade through the Square and a roast in Farkas Hall, accompanied by Pudding cast members in costume.
At the roast, Hasty Pudding Theatricals president Guan Chen ’17 and vice president Daniel S. Milaschewski ’17 praised Spencer for hosting a free screening of “Hidden Figures” for low-income families in Los Angeles, Calif. earlier this month.
The roast turned playful as the actress was asked to throw a pan full of chocolate pudding—dubbed a “poop pie”—at a cast member dressed as President Donald Trump’s advisor Kellyanne Conway, parodying a scene from “The Help.”
“We have a new president, and I’m waiting for him to demonstrate that he will be president of all of us of these United States, so in that moment of levity, I enjoyed giving her the pie,” Spencer said. “She’s a woman and she needs to understand why women are speaking out in fear of some of the rights we have already litigated being revisited.”
Spencer, a Montgomery, Ala. native, later tackled a rowdy Pudding cast member dressed in University of Alabama paraphernalia to the ground.
“I think my thighs are going to hurt for a while,” Spencer said following the skit.
Following the roast was a live-streamed press conference—available to the public for the first time this year—where Spencer addressed several questions on diversity in Hollywood.
“I want to see diversity in film, and when I say diversity, I mean I want to see women of all shapes and sizes, people of all shapes and sizes, and people with disabilities,” Spencer said. “It is about creating a landscape that demonstrates what our society is as a whole and I think Hollywood today is not conducive to what we see around us.”
The actress was later given the traditional “Pudding Pot” as well as a $25,000 donation courtesy of the Hasty Pudding Institute to the charity of her choosing.
“I have had many honors but this touches me in so many ways,” Spencer said. “I love that everything here is steeped in tradition and it just makes me smile.”
Devon Gunter ’20, who attended the parade, said he was inspired by Spencer’s character in “Hidden Figures.”
“It’s really amazing that she is able to come here and be celebrated in this way,” Gunter said.
The Hasty Pudding will honor actor Ryan Reynolds as its 2017 Man of the Year Feb. 3.
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