Just a week after her first book hit the shelves, actress Octavia Spencer told suburban students penning it required some of the same skills as appearing in movies.
"When we don't have all the details about our characters, we have to make it up to fill in all the details. So for me writing and acting go hand in hand," she said. "I don't think there will ever be a time I don't write and I hope there will never be a time I don't act."
The actress who won an Academy Award for her performance in "The Help," spoke with students at Nancy Young Elementary School in Aurora Thursday through a partnership with Anderson's Bookshop, which has locations in Naperville and Downers Grove.
"I think it lets them know they don't have to be interested in just one thing," Library Media Center Director Blaire Ranucci said. "That you can pursue as many dreams as you have."
Spencer told students her book, "Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit" has been a work in progress for a decade. Growing up in Alabama, she enjoyed solving mysteries with friends in her neighborhood and also liked reading about fictional detectives like Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew and the Hardy boys.
She said she also enjoyed "Little House on the Prairie."
"It was before (the characters) had electricity, the Internet and TV," she told students who let out a collective gasp.
Spencer said reading was difficult because she is dyslexic, but that didn't stop her.
"I like to read even though it was really tough because I could go anywhere in the world in a book, and I could have so many adventures in a book," she said.
Answering questions for students, she revealed she's not much of a chef and that she enjoys watching her alma mater Auburn University play football. She credits her mother for encouraging her to pursue acting.
"My mom always told me I could do or be anything I dared to dream, and I always wanted to work in the movie industry," she said.
Afterward, third-grader Sydney Philo, 8, said it was exciting to meet someone who loves both acting and writing like she does and she enjoyed Spencer's book.
"I thought it was really cool," she said. "I like she put what she feels into it and I think she should keep on writing and I think she should make it into a movie."