Octavia Spencer wins supporting actress Oscar for "The Help"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Octavia Spencer won the Oscar for best supporting actress on Sunday for her role as a sassy maid in "The Help."

Spencer, who was considered the favorite to win the Academy Award, plays an outspoken maid in the 1960s drama about African-Americans who work for rich white families in Mississippi in the early years of the civil rights era.

It was the first Oscar for 39 year-old actress who had never been nominated previously for an Academy Award.

Spencer got a long standing ovation from the audience as she nervously walked to the stage to accept her award.

"I share this with everybody" she said, fighting back tears. "I'm wrapping up, I'm sorry, I am freaking out. Thank you world," she added.

Known to television audiences for her role on the sitcom "Ugly Betty," Spencer grew up in a family of seven children whose mother worked as a maid.

Spencer's film career was dominated in the previous decade by small parts in films such as "Legally Blonde 2," "Spider-Man," "Bad Santa" and "Beauty Shop."

But her career took a dramatic turn when she joined the cast of "The Help," a tale of a white writer who persuades black maids in the U.S. deep South to tell their stories.

Spencer played Minny Jackson, an outspoken woman with an unusual line in revenge cooking. The film was adapted from the best-selling Kathryn Stockett novel of the same name and became a cultural touchstone and box office sensation, grossing more than $200 million at the global box office.

Spencer's co-star, Viola Davis, is Oscar-nominated in the lead actress category.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Chris Michaud and Sandra Maler)


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