Before all of the awards, accolades and before all of the Hollywood lights, when she was growing up, award-winning actress Octavia Spencer had trouble reading. Due to dyslexia, the words were jumbled, and she would have to start reading the same passages over and over again, losing interest.
It’s hard to believe that for the Hidden Figures actress used to have an issue with reading because her words and acting skills come across so crisp on screen, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, it was her teacher that figured out mystery stories might be a good way to keep Spencer engaged in reading.
“I’m reading today because of Encyclopedia Brown,” the 51-year-old Oscar-winning actress told students from Geneva Middle Schools North and South at an assembly.
Her love of mysteries; her love of movies by martial-arts actors Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee; and a fondness for science experiments inspired her to write the “Randi Rhodes Ninja Detective” books for middle school readers. The series of books have become popular to both kids and parents alike.
Spencer, who won an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award and Screen Actor’s Guild Award, explains how a little girl who at first didn’t like to read, came up with the book.
“I wanted to write about the things that I love,” Spencer said. Her novels include prompts for the reader to try things, such as dressing incognito, hiding a secret message in an eggshell or writing in code. The young heroine of the books has a black belt in tae kwon do.
“Encyclopedia Brown was my first boyfriend, in my mind,” admitted Spencer recently on The View. It was those kinds of creative mystery books like that that kept her interest and even got her excited about acting.
Even now, Octavia struggles a little with her dyslexia in her new roles on a Netflix series or on the big screen. She admits that…