A Hattie McDaniel biopic is now officially in development, Shadow and Act has learned.
Producer Alysia Allen is teaming up with Aaron Magnani to produce a biopic on McDaniel, the first black actress to receive a nomination for acting and to win an Academy Award.
Allen has obtained the sought-after film rights to Jill Watts’ biography, Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood.
The youngest daughter of freed slaves, McDaniel sang and danced to help provide for her family. As an acclaimed Vaudeville performer and one of the first black women on radio, she eventually landed in Hollywood and appeared in countless 1930s films. Best known for her performance as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, McDaniel famously commented that, “She’d rather play a maid than be one” and then went on to transform the originally stereotyped character into a meaningful powerhouse performance which went on to win her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1940. During a time of severe racial obstacles, McDaniel was credited as being responsible for opening Hollywood’s eyes to writing more multidimensional, fully realized roles for African Americans after years of stereotypical characters.
A start date on production has not been announced. Allen and Magani are currently looking for the scriptwriter to adapt Watts’ book for the film.
Allen also has in development the film Away From The Bridge, with Keesha Sharp attached to star.
Allen is also the founder of the award-winning national book club, Mocha Girls Read.
Also, if you remember correctly Mo’Nique bought McDaniel’s life rights many years ago and wanted to star in a biopic with Lee Daniels directing. This was around 2010, soon after they worked together on Precious. The status of that is unknown.