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Octavia Spencer pays tribute to Mary Tyler Moore in Hasty Pudding Award speech

The Oscar-winner wants to inspire and educate others with her work.

Octavia Spencer saluted Mary Tyler Moore while accepting her latest award from Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Theatricals on Thursday (26Jan17).

The iconic American television actress, who influenced a generation when her sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show aired on the small screen in the 1970s, died in Connecticut at the age of 80 on Wednesday (26Jan17), and Octavia took a moment to honour her as she accepted the Woman of the Year trophy in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"(Mary changed) how we view women, and how we view independent women," Spencer told the crowd, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "It's definitely a loss for the entertainment community as well as the public at large, because she shaped a generation of independents and she will definitely be missed."

Octavia, who won her first Oscar for her role in 2011 drama The Help, is currently up for yet another Academy Award, having picked up her second nod in the Best Supporting Actress category for her portrayal of NASA mathematician Dorothy Vaughn in last year's (16) hit historic film Hidden Figures.

While accepting her Hasty Pudding trophy, Spencer thanked fans who called her an inspiration, noting she truly wants to make a difference in the world through her work.

"That really touches my heart because I have the luxury now of getting to choose... the characters that I play," she smiled. "One of the things that I like to do is choose movies... that will allow for a little escapism but also educate while entertaining, and I think Hidden Figures does that on so many levels."

Octavia was treated to a parade and all sorts of other fun with Harvard theatre students on Thursday as part of the Hasty Pudding celebration. Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds was dubbed Man of the Year by the university's drama club.

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