Interview with Octavia Spencer of "Red Band Society" on FOX - Primetime Article From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Octavia Spencer

Interview with Octavia Spencer of "Red Band Society" on FOX 9/4/14

It was a real honor to speak with Ms. Spencer. She's the 4th Oscar winner I've interviewed! Yay! She was very sweet, thoughtful and intelligent on this call. Make sure to check out her new show "Red Band Society" on FOX.

Final Transcript
FBC Publicity: Red Band Society Call
September 4, 2014/1:00 p.m. PDT


Alex Gillespie
Octavia Spencer


Moderator Welcome to the Red Band Society Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen only mode. Later, we will conduct a question and answer session. Instructions will be given at that time. If you should require assistance during todayís call, please star, then zero. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. Iíd now like to turn the conference over to our host, Alex Gillespie. Please go ahead.

Alex Good afternoon, and welcome to the Red Band Society conference call with Octavia Spencer. As you know, Red Band Society is a provocative, unconventional, and unique coming of age dramedy about a group of unlikely and rule-bending friends, and the adults who mentor them through the ups and downs of adolescence in the Los Angeles Ocean Park Hospital. The series premiere is on Wednesday, September 17th at 9:00/8:00 Central on Fox. Since we do have limited time, we ask that we keep questions focused on the Red Band Society. Without further ado, Iíd like to turn the call over to Octavia Spencer, who plays Nurse Jackson.

Octavia Well, thank you, Alex. Thank all of you for giving us a little bit of your time today. I hope this will be fun for you, I guess. I donít know what to do. Do you guys ask me questions or I just?

Moderator (Instructions.) Are you ready for your first question?

Octavia Yes, thank you.

Moderator Youíre welcome. One moment, please. Ms. Paulette Cohn from the Examiner (sic), please go ahead.

Paulette Thank you. Good afternoon, Octavia.

Octavia Hi, Paulette.

Paulette Iím curious. When you were growing up, did you ever have any interest in nursing? Was that what appealed to you about this project?

Octavia I canít say that it was a part of my fabric, no. What appealed to me about the project was the fact that itís a very fresh perspective on a show set in hospital, and itís a very fresh perspective on a show thatís centered around teens. The fact that she was a nurse might have been a drawback because Iíve played a nurse so many times. But, itís a special project and it actually was the best pilot script that I had read. I had been offered so much and I just read that one and I just felt a connection to the work.

Paulette You mentioned that it is so special. I was wondering if you are aware of any real life programs that are similar to this.

Octavia Oh, absolutely.

Paulette [Indiscernible] and what you learned about them.

Octavia Well, it was amazing to have Margaret Nagle as our writer because this is very, very much her wheelhouse. She had all of us in contact, the kids were in contact with patients. And, Dave and I and Rebecca Rittenhouse were all in contact with either doctors or nurses or just caregivers that would be able to give us a ground floor information that we should know.

I think coming into it I thought I knew a lot about hospitals because, again, Iíve played a nurse a good many times, but I never played a pediatric nurse and didnít realize that the hospitals are so different, and thankfully they are. The services that they provide are more than just even the sick. I think itís about giving kids a well-rounded atmosphere so that they can continue to be kids.

We visited several hospitals. This is very much like a town center in Los Angeles and UCLA. As weíve been doing promotion for the show, weíve been able to go to several hospitals all over the country. So, itís a very unique environment. Again, itís been life altering actually.

Paulette Thank you.

Octavia Thank you.

Moderator The next question comes from the line of Amy Amatangelo from Paste Magazine.

Octavia Thank you. Hi, Amy.

Amy Hi. Thanks so much for talking to us today.

Octavia Thank you.

Amy At the end of the pilot, we got to see a little bit of your characterís soft side when she had all the pizzas delivered. I was just wanted you to talk a little bit about what weíll learn about your character as the season progresses.

Octavia Well, I think that itís so interesting because there are so many series regulars on the show, largely the teens who are in the hospital. Then, Dave Annable and I are kind of like the mom and pop of the situation with Griffin Dunne being the great uncle. I think our stories unfold, I donít know how much I can tell you except that just like in your regular life youíre not one way all the time. That would just be so dull. I think that Nurse Jackson being a woman who is taking care of people who have, some of them, very serious illnesses, thereís just no time for tomfoolery. Thereís a lot that you have to do and she maintains that type of bravado, especially with the patients because you canít give an inch sometimes, because people will probably likely try to take a mile.

But, I think what youíll learn about her as the season progresses is why she chose this line of work. You will determine whether or not she has a heart of gold or if she has a cold, cold heart, I guess. I donít want to say too much, but I think thatís just enough.

Amy You know, you mentioned youíve read a lot of pilot scripts and this is the one that really stood out for you. So, were you specifically looking to do a TV series? Or, was it you were looking at everything and this really stuck you?

Octavia Well, Iím an actor and I am looking for roles where I can continue to evolve, and things that are challenging and I gravitated to the roles, not necessarily television or film. It was the fact that for me the most interesting roles have been television.

So, it was basically just finding a project (a) that resonated with me; a group of people (b) that I wanted to work with and see every day because you also want to like the people that you work with. So, it was a win-win situation for me because I have a wonderful relationship with everyone over at DreamWorks. So, the fact that Steven Spielberg and Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank are producing this, and Fox I think is really one of the most forward thinking networks out there. So, to be a part of that family and ABC.

So, it was a huge, huge undertaking to make that kind of decision. But, itís one that you have to take seriously. So, the material had to be good and the people that I would be working with had to be people that I wanted to be working with. So, it was not any one thing. It was quite a few mitigating circumstances that made me want to be a part of this project.

Amy Wonderful. Thank you so much.

Octavia Thank you.

Moderator The next question from Tariq Kyle with Please go ahead.

Tariq Hi, Octavia. [Indiscernible.]

Octavia Hi, how are you?

Tariq Iím good. How are you? I was a little curious about the show being built as a dramedy because the pilot was so emotional [indiscernible] and so funny. I was just wondering if you think people will be crying more often or laughing or maybe crying from laughing.

Octavia I think itís going to be a bit of both. Everyone has a different path that they walk in life. It depends on whatever, however you view the world. The circumstances are definitely funny within this very serious situation. So, I was in awe when I read and I cried and I laughed a lot. I basically was really, really entertained. I think people will just run a gamut of emotions actually.

Tariq Thank you so much.

Octavia Thank you.

Moderator The next question comes from the line of Alex Intner, The Michigan Daily. Please go ahead.

Alex Hi, Octavia. Thank you so much for taking our questions today.

Octavia Oh, thank you, Alex.

Alex Now, I was wondering what has it been like working with a lot of younger actors. What have you been able to learn from them and maybe what have you been able to teach them as well?

Octavia Well, Iím glad that I donít have to teach. This is an amazing group of professionals. Theyíre really brilliant, very hard working, very, very intuitive of young actors. You know, a lot of them have worked a lot, maybe not a lot in television, not a lot in film; but, they do have great work ethics. So, what I learn from them is to continue to enjoy the process and have that free spirit about approaching the work and to not be so rigid. I think if anything, they learn from me is about professionalism.

But, again, theyíre all quite professional. They show up ready to work. I feel very blessed because I feel, even though Iím the oldest person on this show, older than Dave Annable, and all the kids combined, I feel very lucky because itís a very familial atmosphere. We are a very good unit. I feel lucky that I get to work with these guys every day.

Alex All right. Thank you so much.

Octavia Thank you.

Moderator Our next question comes from the line of Jamie Ruby, Please go ahead.

Jamie Hi. Thanks so much for talking to us today.

Octavia Thank you, Jamie.

Jamie I just watched the [indiscernible] actually right before the call. I laughed and I cried and I really loved it.

Octavia Oh, thank you. Thank you so much.

Jamie Sure. So, you talked about obviously what attracted you to the part. But, can you talk about how you became involved? Were you approached and asked to do the part?

Octavia Yes, maíam. Itís as easy as that. I have a great team at WME. They were fielding a lot of requests for me to read a lot of stuff. I read a few pilots and I just Ė Steven Spielberg is my favorite director. So, when his name is on anything, of course Iím going to take it seriously.

But, I was really relieved that I absolutely, positively loved the show. Everything that you experienced as a viewer, I experienced as an actor reading the material. Itís on the page.

We had a brilliant director in Alphonso Gomez-Rejon, who was just nominated for an Emmy for American Horror Story; Margaret Nagle, who has been nominated for countless Emmys actually for Warm Springs and Boardwalk Empire. So, I just felt very, very lucky to be given such amazing material and asked to be a part of it.

Jamie Do you have a favorite scene so far you can share with us even if itís somewhat vague?

Octavia Well, the scene that I love from what you just saw is where Leo goes to talk to Charlie in the coma. Itís just one of the most grown-up. I donít know; it was kind of transforming. I mean it didnít matter what they were talking about, what he was saying to him, that it was about his illness. I think you could substitute your own life or your own circumstances into what he was saying. I thought it was just so beautifully done. Charlie Rowe is a young Daniel Day-Lewis; he was just amazing.

Griffin Gluck, who plays our coma boyÖjust watching his face. Itís really hard to lie still and not blink and not move and not twitch. Every time youíre in a scene with Griffin, it just takes my breath away because heís just so perfectly present, even though he doesnít say a single, solitary word to us. So, thatís just, itís my favorite scene.

Jamie Great. Thank you so much.

Octavia Thank you.

Moderator (Instructions.) One moment, please, for the next question, Ms. Spencer.

Octavia Thank you.

Moderator Maria Sciullo from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, please go ahead.

Maria Yes, hi. Thanks for taking the call.

Octavia Hi, Maria.

Maria How are you?

Octavia Iím great. How are you?

Maria Good. Well, my question that had to ask was already sort of answered. But, I have another question that I hope you donít mind answering.

Octavia Okay.

Maria Iím just kind of curious, really quickly with another project, Snowpiercer. The idea Ė

Octavia You know, I canít talk about Snowpiercer because itís such a limited Ė

Maria Oh, right. Iím totally [indiscernible]. Iím fine. Thank you so much.

Octavia Thank you, honey. Iím sorry.

Moderator Then, our next question comes from Suzanne Lanoue with TV Magazine (sic). Please go ahead.

Suzanne Hi. Thatís TV Meg Site. But, thank you. Good morning, hi.

Octavia How are you?

Suzanne Good, thank you. I was wondering how many episodes youíve shot?

Octavia We are on Episode 5.

Suzanne Okay. Good. Do we get to see some more of your character progression and her life outside of the hospital?

Octavia Absolutely. This show is really centered around the kids and what they do as they grow with their illnesses. The adults are kind of the glue, I think, that keeps everything together. So, yes, you will see character progression or regression. We shall see.

But, definitely youíll learn more about Nurse Jackson, and some of the other adults on the show. Youíll learn a lot about Dr. McAndrew. Youíll learn a lot about Brittany. Itís a very evenhanded show. Itís a true ensemble.

Suzanne Oh, good. I love Dave Annable.

Octavia Heís amazing. Heís an amazing actor. But, I am grateful that heís an amazing human being, too.

Suzanne All right. Thank you.

Octavia Thank you.

Moderator The next question from Avery Thompson, Please go ahead.

Octavia Thank you.

Avery Hi, Octavia. How are you?

Octavia Iím fine, Avery. How are you?

Avery Iím great. So, youíre known for playing strong characters, one that you actually won an Oscar for. So, what do you love about your character the most and what makes her different from the other strong characters youíve played in the past?

Octavia Well, I think that thereís a mystery there. You want to know why this woman is the way she is and why she chose to be a caregiver. I think that the show of strength or what people think is strong is not necessarily the case. I think some of the strongest people are people who are quiet and not so brazen with their emotion. Whatís interesting about Nurse Jackson is I think her strength comes a lot time in just her quiet moments. So, thatís what I like that you get to see a whole person and that Iíll get to grow with her as an actor. But, I think sheís just a very interesting character.

Avery Great. Thank you.

Octavia Thank you.

Moderator Our next question from the line of Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times.

Jerry [Indiscernible.] Hi. How are you?

Octavia Hi, how are you?

Jerry Great. I ran into Wilson [Indiscernible] at a red carpet recently. He told me that the characterís gay and that, but also if you could talk about the diversity on the show and working with Wilson.

Octavia Well, itís definitely one of the most diverse series that Iíve seen on television. I think thatís wonderful because itís representative of the world that we live in. But, I think diversity comes in the fact that you have an overweight beauty like myself being the lead of a show with Latin, Asian, African-American, gay, Jewish. I mean itís very, very representative and it will continue to be diverse in the cast.

Let me tell you something. The hospital is one of the most diverse atmospheres that you could ever be a part of. So, Iím glad that all the creatives wanted to be truthful to that. I think thatís a testament.

Working with Wilson, heís amazing. Heís an amazing talent. Iím having a great time learning from him and heís an asset to the show.

Jerry They showed a screening of it at the movie theater in Chicago, and the kids came to the screening. It was so great because they [indiscernible] just [indiscernible] awesome to be in that [indiscernible].

Octavia Youíre witnessing something really, I call it magic in a bottle, because these kids are beautiful, obviously. You can look at them. Every last one of them is strikingly gorgeous. But, thereís so much more about who they are as people.

Theyíre exquisitely talented. I think theyíve done an amazing job putting the right people in every single, solitary role. So, you guys are witnessing, at least I feel like Iím getting a front row seat to greatness happening. You see some talent that are going to be around for a while.

Jerry [Indiscernible.] Well, good luck with the show and come visit us in Chicago.

Octavia Thank you. You know, Zoe Levin is some Chicago, so I will tell her you said hello.

Jerry [Indiscernible.] Great, thanks so much.

Alex We have time for two more questions.

Octavia Perfect.

Moderator Okay. The next question from the line of Tariq Kyle with Please go ahead.

Tariq Hello, again. I was just curious about if you think thereís any part of Nurse Jackson that you identify with more and if not, if there is any specific nurse that you pulled your inspiration from?

Octavia I canít say that thereís any one thing. I can tell you that Nurse Jackson doesnít suffer fools gladly and Octavia doesnít suffer fools flatly. When I have a job to do, I do it. I can say thatís the thing for Nurse Jackson. She takes her job seriously. What was the second part of your question?

Tariq Who, if there is any specific nurse that you pulled your inspiration from?

Octavia No, I canít say that thereís a specific nurse. I did have a nurse that was my point person that sort of was our guide and giving advice on just procedural and just how things are really at the hospital. But, I think Nurse Jackson is an amalgamation of all the women that have influenced my life: the quiet, the strength, all of that.

Tariq Thank you so much.

Octavia Thank you.

Moderator Our last question comes from the line of Preston Barta with FreshFiction. Please go ahead.

Preston Hello, Octavia.

Octavia Hi.

Preston Itís such an honor to speak with you.

Octavia How are you?

Preston Iím doing great. Thereís a line that stood out to me in the show where one of the young patients says that itís often believed that when you go to a hospital life stops, but itís the opposite. I think itís so powerful because when we go to hospitals, itís often not for good reasons. But, the story is so heartwarming and it shows that you can find beauty in places where you feel like normally you would not find beauty.

So, Iím kind of wondering if youíve ever had an experience like that where you found beauty or happiness in a place that normally would be unpleasant.

Octavia Well, I think if you go through life and you donít find the beauty in an unexpected place, then you really have a sad existence. I think every day that I live, I try to find the beauty in things. Thatís what was one of the things that really, really resonated with me about this show.

My perspective of hospitals certainly changed. I certainly value medical professionals in a way that I really hadnít thought about before because gratefully I have my health. But, there are so many people who donít, who have to exist in a world where theyíre not at 100% as far as their physicality, definitely 100% in every other aspect, but with their health theyíre not. So, you have to embrace whatever your reality is and thatís what I thought was so refreshing about this show.

These kids are sick for sure. But, they are still kids. They still have the same insecurities that those kids that are healthy have. They want to be the prettiest. They want to be the tallest, the smartest. They want to be the fastest on the soccer field. I think there is beauty in that.

I think thereís beauty in the fact that the caregivers are on the sidelines giving guidance. Thatís what I thought was very beautiful about this show and about a lot of the childrenís hospitals around the country, and the services that they provide.

Preston Great. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Octavia Thank you.

Alex Iím afraid thatís all the time that we have. I want to thank everyone for joining us today, and thank you to Octavia, for the time.

Octavia Thank you.

Alex Thank you again, and the operator will now give you instructions on the replay.

Moderator Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, this conference will be available for replay after today through September 11, 2014.  That does conclude our conference call for today. We thank you for your participation and for using AT&T Executive Teleconference. You may now disconnect.

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