Raven Goodwin, whose credits include Being Mary Jane and The Clark Sisters, has been cast as Hattie McDaniel in a forthcoming indie biopic, Behind the Smile, Deadline reported Thursday (Jan. 7). It’s unclear when the film will be released.
Goodwin confirmed the news on social media. “‘This is WILD! So happy to announce that I’ll be portraying THE Hattie McDaniel,” she wrote via Instagram. “This is so meaningful — in so many ways! Just know I’m ready to take on the responsibility! Much love!!!”
“Raven Goodwin is such a phenomenal talent and a gift to this project,” said the film’s producer, Jami 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.”
McDaniel was the first Black person to win an Academy Award which she received for her role as “Mammy” in Gone with the Wind. Her pioneering story was filled with peaks and valleys as McDaniel found herself fighting not to get typecast as a maid character while fending off criticism from Black fans for taking on stereotypical roles. White moviegoers protested her appearance in Gone with the Wind and the night that she received her Oscar, McDaniel was forced to sit apart from the cast at a segregated table in the back of the venue.
Besides her groundbreaking Oscar win, McDaniel was the first Black woman to star in a network radio program, The Beulah Show. The series moved to television but McDaniel was diagnosed with breast cancer during filming. She died from the disease in 1952 at age 59.
Goodwin will be the latest actress to play McDaniel after Queen Latifah took on the role in the Netflix series, Hollywood.