The award will be presented to the actress and producer at DTLA’s Orpheum Theatre on August 22, as part of the festival’s Closing Night Gala.
The Ally Award was created “to honor the efforts of an individual in bringing LGBTQ stories to the forefront.” It takes its name from Oscar-nominated producer James Schamus, who was awarded Outfest’s Achievement Award in 2014. Past honorees include James Franco, Andra Day, and Rita Moreno.
At this year’s festival, Spencer isn’t just an honoree. She also has a film making its world premiere, titled Right to Try, which she produced with Brian Clisham and Stephanie Kluft, via her Orit Entertainment banner.
The documentary short tells the story of Jeffrey Drew, who puts his life on the line to try and help find a cure for HIV. Zeberiah Newman directed the project, which also had Andrew Carlberg on board as a producer.
“In honoring Octavia, we are paying tribute to one of the most incredible, talented, and inspiring voices and storytellers of our generation,” said Outfest Executive Director, Damien S. Navarro. “Her body of work is made up of such a diversity of roles, and has brought great empathy and opened conversations about aspects faced by many members of our QBIPOC community and audiences.”
“I am so honored to be recognized with the 2021 Annual James Schamus Ally Award,” added Spencer. “I am proud to bring LGBTQIA+ stories to audiences all over the world and am thrilled that our own film, Right to Try, will be making its premiere at this important festival. It speaks to the kind of stories I want to see on screen – celebrating everyday heroes with a true sense of hope.”
Spencer is a three-time Oscar nominee who claimed a Supporting Actress statuette in 2012, with her turn as Minny Jackson in Tate Taylor’s The Help. She has also been nominated in the past for performances in Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water and Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures.
The actress is currently in production on Sean Anders and John Morris’ film Spirited, in which she stars alongside Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell. She will next be seen in the second season of Apple’s crime drama, Truth Be Told—which she also exec produces—and in Amazon Studios’ sci-fi thriller Encounter.
Last year, Spencer starred in Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker, a Netflix limited series which she exec produced with LeBron James and his production company, Springhill Entertainment. She also recently served as an EP on Green Book, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2019.
Outfest Los Angeles will be held this year between August 13-22, returning to in-person screenings over a year-and-a-half after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nearly every film programmed by the nation’s leading LGBTQ festival will also be available for streaming, for those at-risk or who live outside of the region.
For more information on this year’s festival, click here.
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