Young Philanthropists: Mavis Spencer

Equestrian Mavis Spencer already boasts a lifetime of accomplishments at just 30 years old. The daughter of actress Alfre Woodard and producer Roderick Spencer, Mavis grew up in Los Angeles and credits her work ethic and success to her career-oriented parents. Although named Miss Golden Globe in 2010—an award traditionally given to the daughter of a well-known celebrity—horseback riding has always been her true passion. After starting as a groom and showing promise in show jumping at a young age, her parents advised her work hard to eventually be self-sufficient. She ultimately went on to win multiple Grand Prix, with her mother as her number one advocate throughout her riding journey. Though unable to attend all her daughter’s events because of her own busy career, Woodard always ensured that Mavis was surrounded by professionals that would teach and nurture her so she could thrive. “They helped me create a solid foundation and made sure I had all the tools to be successful, but it was up to me to put in the work and make the most of it,” said Mavis. With the understanding that many lack that kind of support, Mavis has now made it her priority to make riding more accessible to all socioeconomic backgrounds. She recently began working with the Michael Nyuis Foundation, which partners with West Palm Events to honor select young riders with grants that will support them financially. Mavis served as one of the judges who chose this year’s recipients, and will continue to work closely with the organization. Mavis also uses her social media platforms to spread awareness to resources that can be utilized by riders in need. “The beautiful thing about living in such a technologically advanced age is you can go online and watch thousands of rounds from top level classes in competitions. [For example], Scott Brash created a training platform with a ton of incredible videos on everything from management, to training exercises you can do at home. There are so many outlets available to all levels of riders to help,” said Mavis. “Sometimes you have to advocate for yourself.” 

Mavis Spencer (Courtesy of Sara Shier Photography)
Mavis Spencer with her family (Duncan Spencer, Alfre Woodard, and Roderick Spencer at The Lion King premiere in Hollywood. (Getty Images)
Mavis Spencer competing at the Desert International Horse Park in Thermal, California