Actress Octavia Spencer arrives at The Hollywood Reporter's Annual "Power 100: Women In Entertainment Breakfast" at The Beverly Hills Hotel on Dec. 7, 2011 in Beverly Hills,

*Octavia Spencer will be recognized with the Palm Springs Film Festival’s Breakthrough Performance Award for her role in “The Help,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Octavia Spencer is a consummate actress who seamlessly blends her dramatic and comedic talents, creating performances of uncommon depth,” festival chairman Harold Matzner said in announcing the honor, which will be presented at the fest’s Awards Gala on Jan. 7 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. “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.”

Spencer made her big-screen debut in Joel Schumacher’s “A Time to Kill” in 1995. Her credits also include “Dinner for Schmucks,” “The Soloist,” “Seven Pounds,” “Bad Santa,” “Spiderman” and “Being John Malkovich.”

The 23rd annual Palm Springs International Film Festival runs from Jan. 5-16.

Some forward-looking college professors enabled television’s Smithsonian Channel to offer a look at the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. from the time in which it occurred.