The Oscar’s So White… Who Cares! Hattie McDaniel Did It: The Key Is Teaching Our Kids To Live their Dreams At All Costs
I just finished watching an amazing musical entitled, “Hattie… What I Need You To Know!” I was very surprised to know the vast talent of Ms.McDaniel. She had a burning desire to be an actress since she was a kid. I learned her road to stardom all began when she was working as a washroom attendant in a posh all-white night club. As in a fairy tale, a back singer of one of the hottest Black performers was sick and they frantically went searching for a singer. In contrast her to the modest, bug-eyed, hunched shoulders image of Hattie McDaniel we remember her as, she took the stage as a back up singer and exited, a star.
Hattie McDaniel had a career most actors, regardless of race could only dream of. Most notably she won the highest honor in her field, an Oscar for best supporting actress in “Gone With The Wind.” She had an illustrious career, in one year she worked in over 30 full length feature films. Halle Berry, an Oscar Award Winner has only starred in 3 movies a year. Acting work-horse Samuel L. Jackson typically stars in 6 films a year,(which is amazing).
Many people have come to label Hattie McDaniel as a sellout who portrayed stereotypical and demeaning roles. They criticized her for not doing actions many of them would never have done. Think about it, how many of us would go into work on Monday, march into our boss’ office, put our feet on their desk, and proceed to tell them our demands. The NAACP nearly crushed her career through their boycott. While it is very important to stand up for unfair and unethical working practices, we don't usually use the workers as a method to get back at the business owners.. This is what the NAACP attempted to do with Ms. McDaniel’s career.
NAACP and others in the Black Community must have been looking for performances like Beyoncé’s Super Bowl 50’s Halftime Show or like Kendrick Lamar at the 2016 Grammy’s. While these performances are inspiring and uplifting it still requires artists to abide and operate within a framework.
This prompted me think about how important Hattie McDaniel is for people to talk about her importance and in the context #OscarSoWhite, but more importantly what does it mean to do your job so well that your light will undeniably shine and your peers MUST recognize your efforts. This play shares a lesson we all can benefit from, “doing our best when we are given the opportunity to shine”. Hattie McDaniel accepted her award at the 14th Oscar Ceremony at a segregated hotel where they did not allow Black people to walk through their front door. Today we have a video of Ms. Hattie McDaniel accepting her words and uttering her famous words, “ I want to be a credit to my race.” Even though she may not have gingerly walked through the front doors of that hotel to accept her award she was inside. More importantly to be honored by her peers, for her exemplary work. That is a dream come true at all costs.
Hattie McDaniel gave every maid, cook, and domestic worker the ability to hold their head up high walking to work on Monday morning. She allowed women to see the best of themselves in their current position. Thereby showing them that happiness exists in the present and not in a time in the future when we have “more”. Hattie showed us how to transcend our current role, title, and label to live up to our greatness. This journey is something many humans want to do. We just don't know how, well Hattie provides us with an example. Do your best everyday with what you have.
How many of us have bestowed this knowledge to our children? She made her dream a reality. She did not try to figure out or make the excuse that she needs to tear down the house to erect a new one that will let her in the front door. She identified the house, Hollywood. She used her tools, acting with dignity, integrity, and professionalism. She fulfilled her dreams. This is the path we should be most concerned about embarking upon. No more excuses #oscarsowhite. No more hiding under the covers of #Blacklivesmatter. We need to bring our kids to see this show to tell them, at all costs live your dream. No excuses. This play show will your child they have everything it takes to bring strength, understanding, and love to the world by living their dreams. It does not matter the color of their skin or gender.
You don’t want to miss this play! This play is a fantastic rendition of Hattie McDaniel’s life portrayed by the stunning songstress Ms. Vickilyn Reynolds. She delivers a performance that will melt your heart, tantalize your ears, and ignite your soul. Hattie…What I Need You To Know! Is running at MOments Playhouse in Hollywood, CA. (665 N. Heliotrope Dr.). Visit www.blacktheater.org to purchase your tickets. Join us this weekend Saturday February 27th at 8pm and Sunday February 28th at 6pm for a performance and talk back about, Living Your Dreams At All Costs for young women and girls who want to be in the entertainment industry.
Moya Ojarigi is a teacher. She believes every child deserves the opportunity to live and share their dreams with world. To get tips on great ways to encourage and educate children go to www.earlyliteracymadefun.com