Born in 1893 to two former slaves, McDaniel grew up in poverty and followed her brothers onto the stage, making fun of stereotypes by performing in whiteface.
In 1931, she moved to Los Angeles where she began uncredited film roles as maids and slaves; roles that were shunned by black actors at the time.
McDaniel was the first African American woman to receive an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in her 1940 role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind.
Though the award was a historic moment for her, the 46-year-old’s career took a not too impressive turn right after.
“I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry. My heart is too full to tell you just how I feel.”
Those were excerpts of the speech delivered by Hattie McDaniel when she received the Oscar.