Raven Goodwin Tapped to Play Hattie McDaniel in ‘Behind the Smile’

by Jamila Lizet White

January 11, 2021

Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage/CBS via Getty Images

Raven Goodwin is beginning to be a force that can’t be reckoned with.

It’s been nearly a year since she portrayed Denise Clark Bradford in The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel and now she’s adding another legend to her roster. The former BET’s Being Mary Jane actress has been tapped to play the late Hattie McDaniel, the first Black person to ever win an Oscar in the indie biopic, Behind the Smile.

Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images

“Raven Goodwin is such a phenomenal talent and a gift to this project,” McCoy-Lankford said in a statement to Deadline. “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.”

At each turning moment in McDaniel’s career, she was faced with racism and racial segregation.

The actress and singer-songwriter was unable to attend the premiere of the 1939 film Gone With The Wind because it was held at a whites-only theatre in Atlanta. This same film won her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as ‘Mammy,’ yet she wasn’t allowed to sit alongside her co-stars during the segregated ceremony.

Before losing her battle to breast cancer in 1952, McDaniel’s final wish was to be buried at the Hollywood Cemetery but was denied because it was restricted to whites only.

She was also met with backlash from the Black community, including the NAACP, for playing stereotypical maid or slave roles.

The 28-year-old shared the news on Instagram affirming fans that she’s ready “to take on the responsibility” of telling McDaniel’s story.

“This is WILD! So happy to announce that I’ll be portraying THE Hattie McDaniel,” she captioned the post. “This is so meaningful— in so many ways! Just know I’m ready to take on the responsibility! Much love!!!”

Even after the criticism McDaniel encountered, the large impact she made in Hollywood hasn’t gone unnoticed, especially by Goodwin.

“Hattie YOU did it. Because of your legacy, we are able to write and portray OURSELVES in whatever light we choose,” the Washington D.C. native stated. “I am forever honored. I look forward to bringing this important historical and relevant life story to the screen.”

Tell us: Good casting?

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