A biopic about actress Hattie McDaniel, the Gone With the Wind star who became the first African American to win an Academy Award, is in development.
Variety reports that producers Alysia Allen and Aaron Magnani have acquired the writes to author Jill Watts’ biography Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood with the plan to bring the pioneering actress’ life story to the big screen.
The daughter of freed slaves, McDaniel started in vaudeville and radio before portraying Mammy, a housemaid to Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett O’Hara, in the legendary adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s novel.
McDaniel won Best Supporting Actress at the 1939 Academy Awards for her role in Gone With the Wind. It would be another 24 years – with Sidney Poitier’s Best Actor win for Lilies in the Field in 1964 – that another African American would win an acting Oscar, and 52 years before another African-American woman won Best Supporting Actress, with Whoopi Goldberg honored for Ghost in 1991.
When Mo’nique won the same Oscar for Precious in 2010, the actress thanked McDaniel” for enduring all that she had to so that I would not have to” in her acceptance speech.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the McDaniel biopic is still fresh in the development stage, with no screenwriters, stars or director lined up for the film.