Long before Denzel Washington and Halle Berry had their historic wins at the 2002 Academy Award Ceremony, there was Hattie McDaniel. The iconic American actress, singer-songwriter, and comedian was the first African American performer to win an Oscar all the way back in 1940. Now, it appears this legendary actor’s life is finally receiving the biopic treatment. As first reported by Deadline, SMILF star Raven Goodwin will portray McDaniel in the upcoming film.
The picture, titled Behind The Smile, hails from screenwriter Gregory Blair (Death House). Independent film studio Hillionaire Productions will produce the feature with Global Genesis Group handling distribution. Moreover, Jami McCoy-Lankford (The Business of Christmas) is on-board to executive produce the film. In a statement, McCoy-Lankford expresses her excitement about Goodwin starring as McDaniel.
“Raven Goodwin is such a phenomenal talent and a gift to this project,” said McCoy-Lankford. “In our first meeting on Zoom, she already showed the kind of passion that is befitting such a complex and Iconic character as Hattie McDaniel was.”
Best known for her role as Mammy in 1939’s Gone with the Wind, Hattie McDaniel won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the 1940 ceremony. However, because of her skin color, McDaniel was segregated from her fellow nominees. Despite the rampant, and ignorant, hatred of her time, McDaniel triumphed amidst tragedy. In addition to history made on the big screen, McDaniel was also the first black woman to sing on the radio in the United States. Following her death in 1952, her legacy was cemented with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Most recently, Queen Latifah portrayed McDaniel in Ryan Murphy’s Netflix limited series, Hollywood.
Raven Goodwin’s impressive résumé includes appearances in hit TV shows like Being Mary Jane, New Girl, Good Luck Charlie, and Glee. Recently, the actress starred alongside Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn in Snatched. Her various roles have earned her a number of nominations at the Black Reel and Independent Spirit Awards.
What do you think? Are you looking forward to seeing the life of Hattie McDaniel told on the big screen? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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