Nina Mae McKinney is a black woman who could achieve success in a sphere and era that was dominated by white women
One of the first major black actresses, Nina Mae McKinney, is not someone who comes in mind when you ask about black actresses. And that’s shame, and it’s time to slightly change it. The screen siren may not have received many accolades or even made many films over the course of her career, but her work still paved the way for Black actresses and singers who came after her.
King Vidor was putting together his first sound film, a musical featuring an all-Black cast, which was one of the first of its kind. Hallelujah was about a struggling sharecropper and his complicated relationship with a woman named Chick. After seeing Nina in Blackbirds, Vidor cast her as Chick, a role the African American Registry said was seen as the original Black Temptress, “half woman, half child.” Still, Nina gained a lot of acclaim for her work in the film as well as praise from Vidor, who garnered an Oscar nomination for directing the picture.