Anna Ogunkunle - Hollywood and the Mammy: Enduring Stereotypes for African-American Actresses
Pamela Hill Nettleton
In the 86 years of the Academy Awards, 15 African-American actors have won an Academy Award for roles playing slaves, witches, and musicians. The slave role is the most enduring of the three. Only seven African-American women have won an Academy Award. Two of these women won the Best Supporting Actress award for playing similar roles, the mammy. This study analyzes the mammy played by Hattie McDaniel in Gone with the Wind (1939) and Octavia Spencer in The Help (2011) in light of established and recognized stereotypes of African-Americans in film while thinking through what the Academy Award recognized twice in terms of gender and race in media. The goal of this study is to compare the mammy role in Gone with the Wind and The Help and observe the changes of the role between 1939 and 2011 by focusing on four themes— clothing, comic relief, relationship with the White family, and personal life of the character—across both narratives. A narrative analysis anchored in framing theory is used to analyze similarities and differences between the two films. Through this research, the author locates the similarities between the two roles and offers concerns about race representation being rewarded in Hollywood.
African American Studies | Film and Media Studies
Ogunkunle, Anna, "Anna Ogunkunle - Hollywood and the Mammy: Enduring Stereotypes for African-American Actresses" (2014). Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program 2014. 8.