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Raven Goodwin to star as Hattie McDaniel in upcoming biopic

Raven Goodwin (Image source: Instagram – @ravengoodwin)

Raven Goodwin has been cast to star in the upcoming biopic of Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to win an Oscar. According to Deadline, the indie film will be called Behind The Smile and is being produced by Hillionaire Productions and Global Genesis Group.

McDaniel won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal as “Mammie” in Gone With The Wind. The heralded actress faced many acts of racial discrimination during her day and even had to sit in the corner of the hotel as she waited to see if she would win the coveted prize in 1940.

The Coconut Grove Restaurant of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, which held the event, didn’t allow Blacks during those times but allowed McDaniel in as a “favor.” She also received negative feedback from organizations like the NAACP which took issue with stereotypical roles, and she often was quoted saying, “I’d rather play a maid than be one.”

Goodwin, the former “Being Mary Jane” co-star, revealed the news on Instagram. “This is WILD! So happy to announce that I’ll be portraying THE Hattie McDaniel,” she wrote. “This is so meaningful— in so many ways! Just know I’m ready to take on the responsibility! Much love!!!”

Rick Romano, president of Global Genesis Group, spoke with Deadline about the project and its significance. “It’s exciting to be involved in telling the story of a woman who is a part of American history as well as movie history. Now, more than ever, in a still divisive time in our country’s relationship with race, the story of Hattie McDaniel is meaningful and current. Individuals such as Hattie McDaniel were trailblazers in their struggle for equality, and their stories need to be told for our country’s understanding of inclusiveness and tolerance. We are thrilled to have Raven Goodwin play Hattie McDaniel and provide an honest look into the triumphs and tragedies of her life.”

Goodwin, who also appeared in the film The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, further expressed her excitement about the project, posting, “Hattie YOU did it. Because of your legacy, we are able to write and portray OURSELVES in whatever light we choose. I am forever honored. I look forward to bringing this important historical and relevant life story to the screen.”

The project is scheduled to go into production later this year.