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Ma 2019: Octavia Spencer’s new horror film helped her shake off this racist stereotype

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Megan Murray
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Octavia Spencer has for too long been typecast in Hollywood, but now the actor is turning to horror and her new film Ma to show what else she can do.

Octavia Spencer’s new role as Ma, the psychopathic drinking buddy of a bunch of teenagers, is nothing like anything she’s ever played before.

Her first foray into horror, this terrifying-looking role will not only allow Spencer to play the lead, but also push her range, something which she feels has been limited previously.

Her performances in supporting roles like Minny Jackson in The Help or Zelda in The Shape of Water have won over audiences, thanks to both her warmth and comedic timing. But while these heart warming and hilarious parts have made her a well-known name, Spencer has revealed that they have left her feeling typecast.

“I felt people always wanted to see me as the nurturer, or the sage, or the sassy black woman. And the funny thing is none of them are real life,” says Spencer, reported by BBC News.

“So I thought, well, since I’m not doing anything that remotely resembles me anyway, I may as well go for gold and just do something completely out of that range at the other end of the spectrum,” she continues, explaining why she was attracted to the project. 

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Ma tells the story of Sue-Ann, a woman who lives alone and meets a group of teenagers after they ask her to illegally buy them alcohol from an off licence.

Ma’s house has a large basement, an area she tells the group can be all theirs, to party “like rockstars” and invite as many friends as they like. 

But instead of acting as a friendly facilitator for good clean fun, Ma begins to not only join in with the parties and attempt to creepily infiltrate the group, but stalks the teenagers, showing up at their school and becoming involved with their families, until things take a much darker turn.

Spencer says the complexity of Ma’s character is what excited her about the role, and that she “leapt at the chance” to star in the film.

Although a glimpse at the trailer paints Spencer’s character as extremely dangerous and deranged, the actor says there’s a lot of depth behind why she acts the way she does, explaining that she wasn’t always this way.

“I just had to do a lot of research, and once I knew what her disorders were, it was easy to follow her thought process and thought pattern, and understand why she reacts as she does.

“When you first meet her, you don’t want her to go down that road that you know that she’s about to go down. And I just thought it was a very interesting character to play,” she explains.

Ma is released in UK cinemas on 31 May 2019.

Images: Getty 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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