Octavia Spencer Talks Fox's 'Red Band Society'

Kimberly RipleyLife

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Octavia Spencer, best known for her Oscar-winning role as Minny in The Help, will soon star in a new Fox series that is a cross between a teen drama and a medical show. Red Band Society will center around a ward full of sick kids and teens at the fictional Ocean Park Hospital. Spencer stars opposite Dave Annable (Brothers and Sisters). He is Dr. Jack McAndrew to her Nurse Jackson. At times she might even be referred to as 'Scary Bitch.'

E! Online recently spoke with both Octavia Spencer and Dave Annable about the show that premieres tonight--Wednesday, September 17th at 9 PM on Fox--and the conversation definitely makes it sound like a show that's well worth tuning in to check out.

Spencer started off by ensuring viewers that just because they've heard key words like 'sick kids' and 'hospital,' that Red Band Society isn't constantly depressing.

"Let me tell you, there are some sad things…one a child has cystic fibrosis, it is not a fun disease. Heart failure? Not fun, but what Margaret did is present it in a way that she knows—I also did the same thing. 'I don't know, I don't know. I don't want to play a nurse, I played a nurse three dozen times and I don't know. I don't want to watch a depressing show about kids being sick,'" she said. "But, you pick up the script and you realize their illness is a backdrop. It's about their adolescence and the teen angst and all the stuff that we went through. It's basically saying, 'Hey, these kids happen to have these illnesses, but they're normal.'"

"It is really about life," Annable said.

"That is what I love so much about it because it is true to life," Octavia Spencer adds. "This world is something I wasn't exposed to. I always thought when you thought about hospitals you equated that with depression and sterile. I'm glad they have this environment for kids who are sick to be kids and sort of get through that in a way that we never really thought existed."

Both Dave Annable and Octavia Spencer visited UCLA's Mattel Center to visit a ward filled with sick children after landing their Red Band Society roles. They spoke with a 14-year-old patient named Julie.

"We said we're doing a television show, but it's from your point of view—the look on her face was something I'll never forget in my life," Annable said. "She was so happy. She was joking, talking about her wig because there was a cute patient down the hall…really, it was like not one moment where she was feeling pity and that's where the show lives."

Julie has bone marrow cancer and a bucket list. She wanted to wear high heels and bake muffins. Annable suggested she do both of those things at the same time.

"I was like, ‘No! Do not bake muffins in high heels," Octavia Spencer said. "It was great, it was great. We like to live in that bubble of optimism because it's a very different type of show."

Octavia Spencer described her Nurse Jackson persona during a recent interview with Al.com.

"I think that Nurse Jackson being a woman who is taking care of people who have, some of them, very serious illnesses, there's just no time for tomfoolery," she said. "But, I think what you'll learn about her as the season progresses is why she chose this line of work. You will determine whether or not she has a heart of gold or if she has a cold, cold heart, I guess. I don't want to say too much, but I think that's just enough."

Does Red Band Society sound like a show that might become part of your fall lineup for Wednesday night viewing? Fans who loved Octavia Spencer in The Help will likely be tuning in to see her in what certainly sounds like a dynamic new role.

Kimberly Ripley
Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A wife, mom of five and 'Nana' to Lilly and Aiden, she loves cooking for her big family and watching HGTV in her spare time. Kim is guilty of starting way more home design projects than she can finish. Visit her at Twitter and Facebook.