Hattie McDaniel, First Black Woman to Receive an Oscar, Gets a Biopic
Image via AP
A biopic is currently in development for Hattie McDaniel, who
played “Mammy” in Gone With the Wind and was the first
black person to receive an Academy Award in 1939.
Variety reports that the biopic will be produced
by Aaron Magnani and Alysia Allen, who obtained the rights to
the biography Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White
Hollywood written by Jill Watts. Magnani’s producer
credits include 2017’s The Last Word while Allen is
reported as working on a feature film Away From The
Bridge with actress and director Keesha Sharp. She also
Mocha Girls Read, a book club for black women taking place
in several cities.
McDaniel was the daughter of freed slaves and started out as a
vaudeville performer. In addition to her role as “Mammy,”
McDaniel frequently took roles as
cooks in films, which was criticized by civil rights groups
and even the NAACP as perpetuating black stereotypes in film.
In response McDaniel is famously quoted
as saying, “I’d rather play a maid and make $700 a week
than be a maid and make $7.” It would be several decades after
McDaniel’s win before another black actor won an Oscar, with
Sidney Poitier winning Lilies in the Field in 1964.
In 2010 Mo’Nique, who won an Oscar that year for her
performance in Precious and
thanked McDaniel in her speech,
said that she owned the rights to McDaniel’s story and
wanted to star in the biopic. She
then told Interview Magazine in 2015 that she was
dropping the project because she felt that Hattie’s story had
already been told. “How many times can you tell a story about a
black woman who was underpaid, overused, abused in ways that’s
unexplainable, and then we die broke and alone?” she said.