“The Queen of Sugar Hill” Author Talk with ReShonda Tate

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Program Description:

Celebrating Women’s History Month, National Director of PBS Books, Heather-Marie Montilla, chats with bestselling author ReShonda Tate to explore the legacy of one of Hollywood’s icons—Hattie McDaniel—through her new historical fiction novel, “The Queen of Sugar Hill.” Join us as we discover more about this icon of the silver screen and how the story of her roles on and off the screen still resonates today. With no shortage of triumphs, tragedies, severe setbacks, and controversy, ReShonda Tate brings the powerful story of trailblazer Hattie McDaniel to life for a new generation.

Book Description:

It was supposed to be the highlight of her career, the pinnacle for which she’d worked all her life. And as Hattie McDaniel took the stage in 1940 to claim an honor that would make her the first African-American woman to win an Academy Award, she tearfully took her place in history. Between personal triumphs and tragedies, heartbreaking losses, and severe setbacks, this historic night of winning best supporting actress for her role as the sassy Mammy in the controversial movie Gone With the Wind was going to be life-changing. Or so she thought.

Months after winning the award, not only did the Oscar curse set in where Hattie couldn’t find work, but she found herself thrust in the middle of two worlds—Black and White—and not being welcomed in either. Whites only saw her as Mammy and Blacks detested the demeaning portrayal. As the NAACP waged an all-out war against Hattie and actors like her, the emotionally conflicted actor found herself struggling daily.

Through it all, Hattie continued her fight to pave a path for other Negro actors, while focusing on war efforts, fighting housing discrimination, and navigating four failed marriages. Luckily, she had a core group of friends to help her out—from Clark Gable to Louise Beavers to Ruby Berkley Goodwin and Dorothy Dandridge.

The Queen of Sugar Hill brings to life the powerful story of one woman who was driven by many passions—ambition, love, sex, family, friendship, and equality. In re-creating Hattie’s story, ReShonda Tate delivers an unforgettable novel of resilience, dedication, and determination—about what it takes to achieve your dreams—even when everything—and everyone—is against you.

Guest Biography:

ReShonda Tate, Author

As a national bestselling author and award-winning journalist, ReShonda Tate has the credentials, and the passion, to bring stories to life. A highly sought-after motivational speaker/poet, ReShonda is a three-time nominee and previous winner of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature. She has received a plethora of distinguished awards and honors for her journalism, fiction, and poetry writing skills, including an induction into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame and the Texas Literary Hall of Fame. Two of her novels have been made into television movies.

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