updated 01/16/2012 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 01/16/2012 AT 10:20 AM ET
Octavia Spencer delivered the most timely Golden Globes winner’s speech on Sunday, honoring domestic workers by invoking Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the eve of the national holiday celebrating the civil rights leader’s life and vision.
“With regard to domestics in this country, now and then, I think Dr. King said it best: ‘All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance.’ And I thank you for recognizing that with our film,” Spencer, 41, said in accepting the award for best supporting actress for her acclaimed performance as a maid in The Help.
Spencer, a native of Montgomery, Ala., later told CNN backstage that while the characters in The Help are fictional, “they represent scores of real people.”
“The narrative itself is part of our fabric,” she said. “It’s important to keep the younger generation abreast of how far we’ve come, because this is really foreign to them.”
She also addressed the racial politics of The Help, which have been controversial for showing a white woman inspiring black maids.
“Once we stop looking at ‘It takes a white girl,’ we need to take a look at the fact that it’s these women who came together to do something huge in their small community,” she said. “I’m a realist – we live in a multifaceted, multicultural world, and maybe if we stop labeling ourselves, everyone else will.”