For most of us, our knowledge of the late actress Hattie McDaniel is limited. We have the images of her in Gone With The Wind. We know she was the first Black woman to win an Academy Award. And that afterward, her career kind of faltered.
But now, with an upcoming biopic about this groundbreaking actress’ life, we’re going to learn quite a bit more.
According to Variety, producers Alysia Allen and Aaron Magnani are bringing a movie about her life to theaters. Allen, the founder of the national book club Mocha Girls Read, obtained the rights for Jill Watts’ biography of McDaniel titled, Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood.
The film will cover McDaniel’s birth as the daughter of freed slaves to her journey into vaudeville, to becoming the first Black woman on the radio, to being cast as Mammy in Gone With The Wind, to winning the Oscar in 1939.
Sadly, after this career triumph, McDaniel was relegated to playing similar subservient roles. And she was criticized for it by her community. Her response was, famously, “‘I’d rather make $700 a week playing a maid than working as one.” Still, she too was conflicted about the roles she portrayed.
The project is still in the early stages of development with no stars, screenwriters, or directors attached to the project.
But we’ll be sure to keep you posted.