Image credit: shethepeople

At the 12th Academy Awards in 1940, Hattie McDaniel became the first black person to win an Oscar. She won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role as Mammy in the movie Gone with the Wind. Her speech showed her hope to be a credit to her race and the film industry.

Hattie was born on June 10, 1893, as the youngest of 13 kids to parents who were once enslaved. She loved music and got into show business by working in her brother’s carnival company. Later, she joined a traveling theater group.

Moving to Los Angeles in 1931, Hattie faced difficulties finding acting jobs. She worked as a maid to pay her bills. But her talent couldn’t be hidden for long. She got roles in movies and on the radio. Her big break came with Gone with the Wind, even though her character Mammy was criticized for being a stereotype.

Winning the Oscar was a big moment, but it came with a downside. At the ceremony, Hattie and her date were separated from the rest of the cast because of racial segregation. Despite this, she stayed active in community work and politics, especially during World War II.

While she received praise for her acting, some people didn’t like how she often played maids in movies. But despite this, Hattie is seen as a pioneer for black actors in Hollywood.

Her story shows the challenges black actors faced back then. But it also shows how talent and determination can break down barriers. Hattie McDaniel’s legacy lives on as an inspiration for generations to come.

Re-reported from the article originally published in She the People.

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