According to an exclusive with Deadline, Raven Goodwin has been tapped to play legendary actress Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to ever win an Oscar, in Behind the Smile.
The indie film is being produced by Jami McCoy-Lankford of Hillionaire Productions and Global Genesis Group, which is also handling sales.
Gregory Blair penned the screenplay for the inspiring story of McDaniel, who famously played Mammy in 1939’s Gone With the Wind, a role that earned her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
She wasn’t allowed to sit amongst her peers during the segregated ceremony.
McDaniel endured racism and racial segregation throughout her storied career.
She also faced backlash from the Black community, including the NAACP, for taking on stereotypical maid or slave roles.
She died in 1952 at age 57 of breast cancer. Despite the criticisms, McDaniel has no doubt left an indelible mark in Hollywood.
Most recently, Queen Latifah portrayed McDaniel in Ryan Murphy’s Netflix miniseries, Hollywood.
“Raven Goodwin is such a phenomenal talent and a gift to this project,” said 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.”
“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,” remarked Rick Romano, President of Global Genesis Group.
“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 was most recently starred in the Lifetime movie The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, the true story of gospel group the Clark Sisters, which marked the network’s highest-rated original movie since 2016.
Other credits include BET’s Being Mary Jane, Showtime’s SMILF, and Fox comedy feature, Snatched, with Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn.
“Hattie YOU did it. Because of your legacy, we are able to write and portray OURSELVES in whatever light we choose,” Goodwin extolled.
“I am forever honored. I look forward to bringing this important historical and relevant life story to the screen.”
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