According to THR, a biopic is officially in the works about Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to be nominated for and win an Academy Award. McDaniel appeared in a countless string of films throughout the ‘30s and ‘40s, but is best known for her role as Mammy in the 1939 film Gone with the Wind opposite Vivien Leigh. The role earned McDaniel a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, marking a historic moment in film history.
McDaniel was born in 1895 to freed slaves and got her start in entertainment as a vaudeville performer, also appearing on radio multiple times. She is a true trailblazer for African Americans in show business, and is credited as responsible for opening up more complex roles and opportunities for subsequent generations of African-American actors. McDaniel worked alongside some of the biggest names in classic Hollywood, including Jennifer Jones, Henry Fonda, Joan Crawford and more. She passed away in 1952.
The untitled biopic is being produced by Alysia Allen and Aaron Magnani. Magnani most recently executive produced last year’s Shirley MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried film The Last Word. The project currently has no screenwriter attached and is based on Jill Watts’ 2007 biography Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood.
Check out the video below of McDaniel accepting her historic Oscar at the 1940 Academy Awards.