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Octavia Spencer says she experienced ‘more racism’ in LA than Alabama

“Ma” actress Octavia Spencer claimed that Los Angeles, California struck her as much more racist than her hometown of Montgomery, Alabama.

During a recent podcast interview Spencer explained that though she had anticipated the city in the blue state to be a “free and liberal thinking place,” once she got there, she experienced “more racism” than she ever had in Alabama.

Spencer, who starred in big Hollywood pictures “The Help” and “Hidden Figures” made her revealing comments on the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron.”


The topic came about when the actress spoke fondly of her upbringing in Montgomery, Alabama, which seemingly caught Maron off-guard because of stereotypes of Black people living in the deep south.

Spencer claimed, “”It’s a beautiful place and beautiful people. You know, I love being from there.” Maron asked, “But it’s like, it’s heavy, man. Right?”

Breaking down the stereotype, the actress stated, “I think everywhere is heavy. Everywhere has its history. You know what I mean? It’s — I think everywhere has problems.” 

Though she did acknowledge, “You can’t deny that southern history is intense.”

Still, Spencer explained how she grew up after the more racist period of Alabama’s history, telling Maron, “Well, what’s beautiful for me is, that stuff preceded me. You know, I was a child of the seventies… You know, as you grow older and the things that you can remember. That wasn’t a part of my history. I learned about it. It’s not everything — anything that I experienced.”

Maron asked if racism affected her family in any way, to which she replied, “No.”


Spencer said, “My mother definitely, you know, taught us about the world and the realities, the harsh realities of the world and history.”

“But growing up in Alabama, I’m going to be honest, I felt more racism when I first moved here than I ever, ever had in Alabama,” she added, mentioning relocating to Los Angeles.

Maron found the comment compelling, commenting it made sense because people of different races have been living together in the south “since the beginning” of the United States – longer than in California.

Spencer agreed, noting her initial perceptions of L.A. were broken when she got there. She said she remembers thinking, “Oh, California is gonna be this free and liberal thinking place,” but ended up feeling judged upon entering a store.

“It is so funny. It’s right out of ‘Pretty Woman,’” she said, referencing a scene where high-end store clerks judge Julia Roberts’ call-girl character for daring to enter their establishment.

Spencer elaborated, saying, “I remember going into a shop and being followed, like, at first, I didn’t even — I was just like so excited, like just walking around, and then I realized that I was being followed.”

“It was kind of strange in that way,” she added, saying that the incident was “glaringly obvious,” but that she hadn’t experienced much discrimination since.

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