The announcement of Spencer's win was greeted with a standing ovation. "Thank you Academy for giving me the hottest guy in the room," she said before breaking down in tears. "I share this with everybody."
In "The Help," Spencer played Minny Jackson, a brash and outspoken maid in Jackson, Miss., who -- pushed by her friend Abileen (fellow Oscar nominee Viola Davis) -- helps a young white journalist (Emma Stone) write an expose about the living conditions of black domestic workers. In Spencer's most memorable scene, she does a "terrible awful" to the racist Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard) by giving her a contaminated pie.
Spencer, who also won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award, defeated fellow "Help" star Jessica Chastain, as well as Melissa McCarthy ("Bridesmaids"), Berenice Bejo ("The Artist") and Janet McTeer ("Albert Nobbs"), to win the award -- her first Oscar.
She'll next be seen in "Smashed," which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January.