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Hattie McDaniel Was the First African-American to Win an Oscar on Leap Year in 1940


Hattie McDaniel

Leap Year only comes around every four years, but who can complain about getting an extra 24 hours of life. I’m not sure if I really paid any attention to Leap Day over the years, but when you really look at it…it can be considered a gift. It’s an extra day that you have been blessed with to make changes in your life and take positive steps toward your dreams & goals.

When I think of dreams and Leap Year, I start to remember Hattie McDaniel, who is the first African-American to win an Oscar. She received this prestigious award on February 29, 1940 for her role as Mammy opposite Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) in the iconic movie ‘Gone With The Wind’. After she won the Oscar it took many years to see another actor take that walk on stage to be recognized for their work. And although I am really proud of the work that Viola Davis & Octavia Spencer did in the movie ‘The Help’, it’s a little disappointing that 72 years later we are still winning awards for portraying maids.

But I guess Hattie was looking at the big picture when she said…

“I’d rather make $700 a week playing a maid than earn $7 a day being a maid”.

Nevertheless, I celebrate her success and the doors she opened for other black actresses.