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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student


Octavia Spencer to visit IU campus


Using the entertainment industry as a medium to tackle diversity and minority discrimination, Union Board presents its second main lecture of the spring semester.

Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer will speak at 2 p.m. Sunday at the IU Auditorium as part of the Union Board lecture series.

Her lecture, titled, “Real Honest: An Afternoon with Octavia Spencer,” will discuss the issues of typecasting and discrimination in Hollywood.

“We have a very diverse university, but a lot of the time the events on campus don’t accurately represent this diversity in its entirety,” said Yasmine Raouf, director of lectures for Union Board and organizer of the event.

During the lecture Spencer will share some of her own experiences with issues of diversity and gender discrimination in the acting field. Spencer played the role of a nurse 16 times from 1996 to 2013 and won her 2012 Academy Award for portraying Minny Jackson, a house maid, in the film “The Help.”

The event will be structured in a question-and-answer format, led by the assistant director of lectures, Alexis Burr. After that, audience members will have the opportunity to tweet questions using the hashtag “realhonest” so their voice is being heard as well.

Burr is a senior studying community health and was just awarded the Kate Hevner Mueller Award and the Hill Award for her work concerning race relations and building strong communities.

“When else would I receive the opportunity to be up close and personal with someone so impactful in my life?” Burr said.

Referring to Spencer as her “gap-spiration,” Burr said not only is she an inspiration through the roles that she plays but also through her physical appearance that she embraces, including the gap in her teeth.

“Octavia is a woman for all that it means,” Burr said. “She is beautiful beyond our standard of beauty.”

Spencer is considered beautiful to the general public because she had to work for it, Burr said. The ability to have such a high profile celebrity visit reaffirms the worth of what students are working toward.

The idea to bring Spencer to campus started when Raouf made it a priority to represent women of color, adding to the diversity of campus events. Raouf previously helped facilitate “Evolution of Revolution,” an event featuring five women who shared their insights on what activism looks like in 2017, earlier in the semester.

Raouf said they were trying to find a speaker who would leave students with a positive impression.

Although explained as a long-winded process 
during planning, Raouf said she was overwhelmed by the response to the event. The auditorium is at 83-percent capacity through ticket distribution and predominantly student-based.

“We are trying to put on events that allow our students to take advantage of their time on campus,” Angel Flowers, program adviser for Union Board, said.

The main goal of the event is for students to understand the underlying message about why Union Board brings certain speakers to campus, Raouf said.

“There’s a lot of people that look at Twitter and Instagram for inspiration,” Raouf said. “Now this can be their inspiration.”

Once of Spencer’s most recent roles was Dorothy Vaughn, one of several black women to provide NASA with information needed to launch the program’s early successful space missions, in “Hidden Figures.” She is also the co-author of an interactive mystery series for children titled “Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective.”

“We are all complex human beings but she is just very interesting,” Burr said. “She will not allow anything to pigeonhole her.”

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