By Ale Russian
February 22, 2018 at 12:00 PM EST

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There’s a common theme among this year’s female Oscar nominees on the woman who inspires them the most in life.

Speaking to PEOPLE for its annual Oscars portfolio, Mudbound‘s Mary J. Blige praised her mom for raising her in difficult circumstances.

“My mother is a strong woman who raised us in some difficult living environments,” Blige, 47, said. “And she was a single parent mom and she did it — and she did it very, very well. Because of her I’m here right now nominated for two Oscars. She’s my hero.”

Luis Sanchis

Octavia Spencer, who is nominated for her work in The Shape of Water, also said her mom inspires her.

“I am a product of her disadvantages in life and she tried to make sure that we took advantage of all of the opportunities that were afforded to us,” Spencer, 45, sweetly said.

Her Shape of Water costar Sally Hawkins chose her mom as well as her grandmother, and got emotional as she thought about their influence.

“The woman who has inspired me the most would have to be my own mother and my grandmother,” Hawkins, 41, said. “Just talking about mothers make you cry! This is very embarrassing.”

Luis Sanchis

And I, Tonya‘s Allison Janney praised her activist mom, too — and another strong woman of Hollywood.

“First my mother, Macy Janney. Watching her volunteer with Planned Parenthood, volunteer with the Junior League. She was just so inspirational to me, to see everything that she gave back to other people,” Janney, 58, says. “And then the other woman who inspired me and mentored me was Joanne Woodward. She made sure that I got into the actor’s studio, she just really took care of me.”

While Janney’s I, Tonya costar Margot Robbie, 27, didn’t choose just one person, she does give a nice shoutout to her childhood friend.

“There’s not one particular woman who’s inspired me the most but I have awesome girlfriends and they all inspire me in different ways. In particular my best friend Sophia, she’s my ride or die, so she’s always with me,” she said, adding that they’ve been friends since they were 10.

Luis Sanchis
Luis Sanchis

Lastly, Phantom Thread‘s Lesley Manville, 61, gave a nod to a woman we all admire.

“I think it would have to be Meryl Streep. I’ve never met her. I admire her so much. I suspect she doesn’t just tick the great actress box, she ticks the great woman box. And I suspect she ticks the great wife, great mother, great friend box,” she said.

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