'The Help' Star Wins Big Award

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Octavia Spencer, who played Minny in the critically-acclaimed The Help, has plenty to celebrate besides the film's amazing box office success.

The 39-year old actress is being rewarded with the prestigious Breakthrough Performance Award at the 23rd Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala, whose past recipients include A-listers Carey Mulligan, Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Hudson and Freida Pinto.

"Octavia Spencer is a consummate actress who seamlessly blends her dramatic and comedic talents, creating performances of uncommon depth," said Film Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. "As the irascible Minny in The Help, she captures the essence of a woman who deals with life head on, relishing confrontation and serving as a source of courage and humor for those whom she loves. To Octavia Spencer, it is therefore a great honor for the Palm Springs International Film Festival to present the 2011 Breakthrough Performance Award."

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Though Spencer is receiving the "breakthrough" award, she is no stranger to the big screen. The scene-stealer has appeared in a wide range of films since her 1995 debut in A Time to Kill, including Seven Pounds, Spiderman, Big Momma's House and Being John Malkovich.

The Palm Springs International Film Awards Gala will be held January 7 at the Palm Springs Convention Center, and will be hosted by Mary Hart. Previously announced honorees this year include George Clooney, Glenn Close and Michelle Williams.