Get ready for a cuteness overload. Thirteen-year-old Nate Foster (of Tim Federle’s Better Nate Than Ever and the newly released sequel Five, Six, Seven, Nate!) recently took a break from rehearsals for E.T.: The Broadway Musical to interview Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, author of The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit. Spencer imparts wisdom and wit that will enlighten us all, whether or not we’re budding Broadway stars.
NATE FOSTER: You are 5′2″, according to reports. I myself am probably the shortest eighth grader in America. Any advice for a child actor who is afraid of outgrowing good roles before he’s too tall to play them?
OCTAVIA SPENCER: Nate, it’s very important to live in the moment! If a great role comes along and you are too tall to play it, then I think the role is too small for your talents.
You played Woman in Elevator in Being John Malkovich, and I currently play Alien #7 in E.T.: The Broadway Musical. Any advice on how to get, like, an actual character name? Is it just a matter of time??
I believe it was Shakespeare who said so eloquently, “What’s in a name?” When you get older, you won’t be too proud of some of the projects you were involved in. So think of it as a disguise. I still love Woman in Elevator, though!
I read that your parents encouraged you to have a fallback plan in case acting didn’t work out. Is that something all parents are legally required to say? Mine think of the arts as a hobby.
Pretty funny, right? Your parents only want what’s best for you. They know a career in the arts usually means living paycheck to paycheck; they just want you to know that you have other options!
I saw that Jamie Foxx tweeted you’d given the “performance of a lifetime” in Fruitvale Station, (which I heard is amazing but I’m not old enough to see). People also said that Minny was your “performance of a lifetime” in The Help. Do you feel any pressure to keep giving performances of apparently unlimited lifetimes?
Well, thank you and Jamie for saying so. However, I just want to do good work. You’re right, though. I don’t want to run out of shelf life or lifetimes!
I got a copy of your new novel for kids, The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit, and read it in, like, two days, which is a record. I thought it was cool that the character Randi Rhodes is a girl who likes karate, because I’m a boy who likes theater and that’s not always popular. Was there anything that you loved as a kid that other people thought was weird or different??
Reading! I wore really thick glasses that were too big for my face. Needless to say, I would have loved to have been a black belt instead of actually just wearing one to hold up my pants!
So, you’ve won an Oscar (congrats, by the way!), and you’re a published author. Any other career goals? Do you have any desire to perform on Broadway opposite a short male costar?
I’d love to do Broadway but only if my short male costar was named NATE!!!!
I don’t consider myself a writer, because I get intimidated by semicolons and thesis statements. But I have a million ideas for stories and maybe even screenplays. Any tricks on how you got started as a novelist?
The hardest thing about writing for me is facing the blank page. So I fill my mug with a homemade mocha latte, put on my favorite sparkly rings, and tell myself I only need to write one thing. Make your workspace fun so you will enjoy being in it.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me! And please keep me in mind if they turn The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit into a musical!!!! (I would love to be considered for a character that has a name.)