Raven Goodwin to star as Hattie McDaniel in new biopic

Raven Goodwin will portray Hollywood icon Hattie McDaniel in a new indie movie, Behind the Smile.

Raven Goodwin has been cast as legendary actress Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to ever win an Oscar, in a new biopic titled Behind the Smile, written by Gregory Blair.

Deadline reported that Goodwin is thrilled to take up the part of McDaniel, exclaiming: “I am forever honored. I look forward to bringing this important historical and relevant life story to the screen.”

Recently portrayed by Queen Latifah in Netflix miniseries Hollywood, McDaniel is a significant figure in cinema's history, experiencing racism and prejudice throughout her career and enduring backlash from the NAACP for accepting roles that stereotyped black women. Despite receiving an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy in 1939's Gone with the Wind, she was made to sit at a segregated table from her peers at the prizegiving, and she was banned from attending the movie's premiere as it was held at an all-white theatre. McDaniel died of breast cancer in 1952 at age 59.

As part of her statement, Goodwin gushed: “Hattie YOU did it. Because of your legacy, we are able to write and portray OURSELVES in whatever light we choose.”

One of Behind the Smile's producers, Jami McCoy-Lankford, of Hillionaire Productions and Global Genesis Group remarked that Goodwin, who recently starred in highly-rated Lifetime movie The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, "is a phenomenal talent and a gift to this project”.

“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,” she shared.

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