Twice a year, Variety highlights five prominent women who are using their clout and influence to bring attention to worthy causes—and for fall 2017, Dermstore is a proud sponsor of this event. Octavia Spencer will be honored for her work with City Year, along with fellow honorees singer Kelly Clarkson, “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins and actresses Priyanka Chopra and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Octavia Spencer may be best known for her Oscar-winning performance in The Help and her Oscar-nominated role in Hidden Figures. But what most people don’t know is that when she’s not walking the red carpet or delivering acclaimed performances, she dedicates her time with City Year, a nonprofit organization that partners with public schools to keep kids on track to graduate.
Spencer was first introduced to City Year the year they had completed The Help. “I was invited to their spring break party,” she narrates. “It was like a carnival and it was fun. And then I heard their stories and I knew that I wanted to be a part of putting that organization in as many schools as possible.”
By identifying and providing one-on-one support to students who are most at risk of dropping out in high-poverty communities, City Year helps students reach their full potential while also establishing an overall positive learning environment in the schools throughout America. “You know, I’m dyslexic,” Spencer confesses. “I’ve met geniuses who are dyslexic. So, I wanted to be a part of an organization that really, really fostered that type of relationship between learning and gaining confidence.”
Aside from helping young children stay in school, Spencer is all about making things happen for other people, especially women. “What makes me feel more powerful as a woman is literally advocating for other women. I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing until Hidden Figures, honestly. Not only just other women, I do it for people. I like to bring talent together. I do that on a daily basis but I realize the need to do it as consistently as possible, especially with regard to women.”
Asked what career advice she would give to fellow women, Spencer confesses that the best career advice she has ever received is actually from fellow actress, Whoopi Goldberg. “To thine own self be true,” she says. “It applies to every facet of your life. If you’re wearing something that doesn’t feel right, then you shouldn’t be wearing it. If you’re in a situation that doesn’t feel right, you shouldn’t be there. And I try to apply that to help me sleep at night.”
Watch the rest of Octavia Spencer’s interview, below.