From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
WHY THE BUZZ After 15 years of bit parts, the Montgomery, Ala., native, 41, is an Oscar favorite for her turn as Minny, a maid in 1960s Mississippi with wicked comic timing and dangerous baking skills. "It was great to put it all into a character onscreen for longer than three minutes," she says.

HOW SHE NAILED THE ROLE

The Help's author Kathryn Stockett partly modeled the character on her pal Spencer. "The only thing I inspired was her ability to speak her mind," Spencer says.

SHE CAN'T WAIT TO MEET...

"Meryl Streep. I think I might bear-hug her."

FAME GETS WEIRD WHEN...

"People are quoting Minny, but when someone says, 'Eat my s---!' out of the blue, I'm like, 'How rude!' And then it's, 'Ah, you might want to say hello first.'"