Raven Goodwin to star as Hattie McDaniels in ‘Behind the Smile’

The 'Being Mary Jane' star will play the first African American to win an Oscar

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Being Mary Jane actress Raven Goodwin is set to star in Behind the Smile, a biopic on legendary actress Hattie McDaniel. 

Goodwin will play the iconic trailblazer who made history as the first African American to win an Academy Award. In 1939, McDaniel won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for her role as Mammy in Gone With The Wind and appeared in over 800 movies in her career.

Read More: ‘Gone With the Wind’ 75 years later: How Hattie McDaniel’s Oscar win reflected on Hollywood

11th Annual Women In Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party presented by Max Mara and Lancome with additional support from Crustacean Beverly Hills, Johnnie Walker, Stella Artois and Cambria
Raven Goodwin attends Women In Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Women in Film)

“Hattie YOU did it. Because of your legacy, we are able to write and portray OURSELVES in whatever light we choose,” Goodwin said in a statement to Deadline. “I am forever honored. I look forward to bringing this important historical and relevant life story to the screen.”

Behind the Smile is being produced by Jami McCoy-Lankford of Hillionaire Productions and Global Genesis Group. Gregory Daniel penned the script.

“Raven Goodwin is such a phenomenal talent and a gift to this project,” added 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.”

Goodwin most recently starred in another biopic, The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, and had a recurring role in SMILF. 

“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,” added Rick Romano, President of Global Genesis Group. 

Read More: ‘Being Mary Jane’ star Raven Goodwin gets engaged

“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.”

Watch McDaniel receive her Oscar below:

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