A Hattie McDaniel biopic is in the works

This is good news, if it’s done right. There’s a biopic in the works on the life and times of Hattie McDaniel, the actress who played Mammy in “Gone With the Wind.” McDaniel was the first black actor to win an Oscar, in 1940.

The film will be produced by Alysia Allen — who happens to be the founder of the national book club Mocha Girls Read — and Aaron Magnani, who will work from the biography “Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood” by Jill Watts. No screenwriter has been named yet.

McDaniel, the daughter of freed slaves, was a vaudeville and radio performer. When criticized for playing maids in movies and therefore keeping black stereotypes alive, McDaniel famously said, “I’d rather play a maid and make $700 a week than be a maid and make $7.”


Who’ll play the actress, who also appeared in “Stella Dallas” and “In This Our Life”? No one is saying anything yet, but I’m putting my money on Octavia Spencer.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.