Hattie was born on June 10, 1893 in Witcha, Kansas. She was the last of 13 children. In 1901 her and her parent moved to Denver, Colorado and this is where her acting and singing career started. She would sing in her church and at home.
Around the age of 16 Hattie decided to take preforming seriously and she dropped out of High school. By the 1920s she became one of the first African Americans to be one the radio. Then her acting career took off when she moved to Los Angeles.
While in Los Angeles she had minor roles in movies. The 30s was the peak of her career, she had a major role in a Hollywood musical. 1932 she was featured in The Golden West; then in 1934 she got her first major role.
Her role as Mammy in the movie Gone With the Wind made her the African American to win an Oscar in 1939. In the mist of this Hattie was having a feud with the NAACP, as the NAACP thought her roles were "damaging to the budding fight civil rights". Then her screen opportunities started to disappear from the progression of black actresses.
In 1947 she starred in a radio show where she took on the role of Beulah, on The Bullah Show on the CBS radio show until 1950 when breast cancer took Hattie's life in 1952 on October 26th.