Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals, America’s oldest theatrical organization, has chosen Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer as their 2017 Woman of the Year.


Just days after Spencer, 46, was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Hidden Figures, the actress was honored with the Hasty Pudding Award. She was given her pudding pot in Farkas Hall at Harvard University today, and joined among the festivities, that included a parade, celebrity roast and hilarious skits performed by the Hasty Pudding members.

Hasty Pudding has been awarding the pudding pot every year since 1951, awarding both a Man and Woman of the Year. Ryan Reynolds will receive the complimentary award next month from the group. “This is so humbling,” said Spencer. “It came out of left field.” Past winners include Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball, and, last year, Kerry Washington.

Spencer previously won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2012 for her role in The Help. Of her work on Hidden Figures, which is based on a true story and Spencer portrayed a real woman, she said, “For this role, for this group of people we are portraying, it’s sweeter the second time around.”

“Train,” was her response to what advice she had for young women of color who aspired to become performing artists. “It’s like being a boxer. It’s like being a runner. It’s a long haul. It took me 15 years to become an overnight success. So you have to buy a good pair of sneakers and train. If you stay in the race long enough you will win a race. The question is, will you be persistent at it?”

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