Producer Alysia Allen has obtained the film rights to Jill Watts’ biography Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood and will produce with Aaron Magnani. The producers are currently searching for the right screenwriter to adapt the book for the screen.
McDaniel — who was the youngest daughter of freed slaves — began her career as an acclaimed Vaudeville performer and one of the first black women on radio. She appeared in countless 1930s films, and became best known for her performance as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, for which she won the Oscar for best supporting actress in 1940. After years of stereotypical characters and during a time of severe racial obstacles, McDaniel is credited as being responsible for opening Hollywood’s eyes to creating more multidimensional roles for African Americans.
HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 14: Hattie McDaniel, star of the CBS Radio program, The Beulah Show. November 14, 1947. Hollywood, CA. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
Hattie McDaniel talking to Jeanne Crain in bedroom in a scene from the film 'Margie', 1946. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 28: The Beulah Show, CBS radio program, features Hattie McDaniel (as Beulah, a maid for the Henderson family), Ernie 'Bubbles' Whitman (as Beulahs boyfriend, Bill). Here they take time to prepare for (Christmas) (New Years Eve). Hollywood, CA. November 28, 1947. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
Portrait of American actress Hattie McDaniel (1892 - 1952) holding her Academy Award from the film 'Gone With the Wind,' 1940. (Photo by John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)
American actress Hattie McDaniel (1895 - 1952) in a CBS Radio studio with actor Edward G. Robinson (1893-1973, left), 1941. McDaniel won an Oscar in 1940 for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Mammy in 'Gone With The Wind', making her the first African-American to win an Academy Award. The man on the right is holding a document bearing the crest United Service Organizations. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Oscar-winning actress Hattie McDaniel, who plays the role of the house servant Mammy in Gone with the Wind by Victor Fleming. United States, 1939. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Lobby card from the movie 'Margie' (20th Century Fox), starring Jeanne Crain and Hattie McDaniel, 1946. (Photo by John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)
Hattie McDaniel tries to console Vivien Leigh in a scene from the film 'Gone With The Wind', 1939. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
Publicity still portrait of Hattie McDaniel in the film 'Hypnotized', Mack Sennett's blackface comedy starring George Moran and Charles Mack, 1932. (Photo by John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)
VIVIEN LEIGH & HATTIE MCDANIEL GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)
HATTIE MCDANIEL & VIVIEN LEIGH GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)
movie, "Gone with the wind", USA 1939, director: Victor Fleming, scene with: Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel, servant, dressing
GONE WITH THE WIND 1939 MGM film with Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara taunted about her curtain fabric dress by Belle Watling
Gone with the Wind, USA 1939, aka: Vom Winde verweht, Regie: Victor Fleming, Darsteller: Hattie McDaniel
Gone with the Wind, USA 1939, aka: Vom Winde verweht, Regie: Victor Fleming, Darsteller: Hattie McDaniel, Vivien Leigh
Gone with the Wind, USA 1939, aka: Vom Winde verweht, Regie: Victor Fleming, Darsteller: Hattie McDaniel, Vivien Leigh, Oscar Po
Gone with the Wind, USA 1939, aka: Vom Winde verweht, Regie: Victor Fleming, Darsteller: Hattie McDaniel, Clark Gable
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Allen, who is also the founder of the award-winning national book club Mocha Girls Read, is also working on the feature Away From The Bridge with Keesha Sharp attached to star. Magnani most recently served as an executive producer on last year's release The Last Word, starring Shirley MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried.