"It is important to open hearts and minds through authentic storytelling," the Oscar-winning actress, who is being honored with the James Schamus Ally Award, tells EW of bringing more LGBTQ+ stories to the big screen.

Octavia Spencer has another honor to add to her ever-growing collection.

The Oscar-winning actress will be honored at the 2021 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival, receiving the prestigious Outfest Annual James Schamus Ally Award, EW can exclusively reveal. The award will be presented at the Outfest L.A. closing night gala on Sunday, Aug. 22 at the Orpheum Theatre.

Spencer tells EW she is "humbled to be acknowledged" with the honor. "It is important to stand with your friends and give them the same respect you want for yourself. Being honored validates the way I feel everyone should be treated and hopefully encourages others to do the same," she says.

Octavia Spencer
Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Spencer, via her production company Orit Entertainment, is a producer of Right to Try, the documentary short making its world premiere at this year's Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival. "I am always a big fan of the unsung hero, which is why I responded so strongly to Jeffrey Drew's story in our film Right To Try. I am looking forward to seeing the film we are premiering with, AIDS Diva: The Legend of Connie Norman," Spencer adds.

The actress, who will next be seen in the second season of Apple TV+'s hit true crime drama Truth Be Told, as well as Amazon Studios' sci-fi thriller Encounter, says she also believes in Outfest's mission in honoring those that have uniquely contributed to LGBTQIA+ stories, arts, and media visibility. "It is important to open hearts and minds through authentic storytelling. Good stories can entertain while bringing change and providing hope," she explains.

James Schamus was the first straight ally to receive Outfest's biggest award, the Achievement Award, back in 2014 and the festival later created this new award in his name to "honor the efforts of an individual in bringing LGBTQ stories to the forefront." Past honorees of the James Schamus award include James Franco, Andra Day, and Rita Moreno. 

"In honoring Octavia, we are paying tribute to one of the most incredible, talented, and inspiring voices and storytellers of our generation," said Outfest Executive Director, Damien S. Navarro. "Her body of work is made up of such a diversity of roles, and has brought great empathy and opened conversations about aspects faced by many members of our QBIPOC community and audiences."

The nation's leading LGBTQ festival will be held August 13-22, and will return to in-person screenings over a year-and-a-half after the pandemic began. Nearly every film will also be available for streaming for those at-risk or who live outside of the region.

For tickets, full festival lineup, and more information, please visit outfestla2021.com

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