Raven Goodwin will play legendary actress Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to ever win an Oscar, in Behind the Smile. Goodwin, most known for her recent roles in Being Mary Jane and The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, has been acting since she was 9 years old. Now many years into her acting career, she will take on one of her biggest and most profound roles to date.
Actor, Gregory Blair penned the screenplay for the encouraging story of Hattie McDaniel, who famously played Mammy in Gone With the Wind, a role that earned her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. She was not allowed to bask in that historic moment as she wasn’t permitted to sit amongst her peers during the segregated ceremony.
Like many Black entertainers hoping to break into the industry at that time, McDaniel endured racism and racial segregation all throughout her career. In tandem, she also faced ridicule from her own community, including the NAACP, for taking on stereotypical maid or slave roles.
Most recently, Queen Latifah briefly portrayed McDaniel in Ryan Murphy’s Netflix miniseries, Hollywood. With only a glimpse into McDaniel’s life, fans can finally watch the full story of the acclaimed actress, played by Raven Goodwin.
“Hattie YOU did it. Because of your legacy, we are able to write and portray OURSELVES in whatever light we choose,” Goodwin tells Deadline. “I am forever honored. I look forward to bringing this important historical and relevant life story to the screen.”
We anticipate the biopic of Hattie McDaniel will shed light on the controversy she was met with as an actress in the 1930s. The film will also celebrate her accomplishments as the first African American to reach such a major milestone. In 1952, McDaniel died at age 57 of breast cancer. Though her career short lived, and despite the criticisms from peers on both sides of the color line, McDaniel has undoubtedly left a major mark in Hollywood.