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‘Forever Honored’: ‘Being Mary Jane’ Star Raven Goodwin Tapped to Portray Hattie McDaniel In ‘Behind the Smile’ Biopic Project

Being Mary Jane” star Raven Goodwin will tackle on the role of actress and the first Black actor to win an Oscar, Hattie McDaniel, in the new film “Behind the Smile,” Deadline was first to report last week.

The indie film will be produced by Jami McCoy-Lankford of Hillionaire Productions and Global Genesis Group. Gregory Blair wrote the script. A director has not yet been attached to the film.

Raven Goodwin. @ravengoodwin / Instagram

Goodwin also shared the news on her Instagram page on Friday, Jan. 8, with a screenshot of Deadline’s report making the announcement. “This is WILD!” the 28-year-old wrote. “So happy to announce that I’ll be portraying THE Hattie McDaniel. This is so meaningful— in so many ways! Just know I’m ready to take on the responsibility! Much love!!!”

The post garnered over 54,000 likes from fans excited about the actress’s latest project, including one user who wrote, “You deserve NOTHING less! It’s your time to shine!!!!! Go get it soulmate! Love you!!”

Fellow actress Gabrielle Dennis commented, “Sooooo freaking awesome!!!” She added, “This a story I am very excited to see and even more excited to see YOU get the chance to embody our beloved Hattie McDaniel CONGRATULATIONS 🙌🏾💐.”

When talking about the role, Goodwin said last week she was “forever honored.” She added, “I look forward to bringing this important historical and relevant life story to the screen.” Goodwin is also known for roles in projects such as the Lifetime biopic about the Clark Sisters “SMILF” and the Disney Channel series “Good Luck Charlie.”

McCoy-Lankford spoke highly of the actress, telling Deadline, “Raven Goodwin is such a phenomenal talent and a gift to this project.” She added, “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.”

McDaniel became the first Black person to win an Oscar for her role as Mammy in the 1939 film “Gone with the Wind.” She won the award for Best Supporting Actress. McDaniel’s career was affected greatly by racism and racial segregation. During the segregated award ceremony, she wasn’t allowed to sit among her peers even though she had won an award. She also received criticisms from the Black community, including the NACCP, for taking on stereotypical roles such as a maid or slave. McDaniel died in 1952 from breast cancer. She was 57. Last year, McDaniel was portrayed by Queen Latifah in Ryan Murphy’s “Hollywood.” Details surrounding the “Behind the Smile” release date have not yet been made public. 

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