CHICAGO (WLS) -- We're counting down to the Oscars during Black History Month as "Boulevard of Bold Dreams" makes its world premiere on the TimeLine stage here in Chicago.
The play was inspired by Hattie McDaniel, the first Black performer to win an Academy Award.
"Boulevard Of Bold Dreams" imagines Hattie McDaniel slipping into a cocktail lounge in the hotel where the Oscars will be presented. She's not even allowed to sit with the "Gone With The Wind" cast. Gabrielle Lott-Rogers, who grew up in Chicago's Hyde Park, savors this part.
"I think that she would be proud of it, and I think she will get the flowers that she's due, because I don't believe we talk about her enough, she was a pioneer in so many areas," Lott-Rogers said.
She also shared why she thinks this piece is so important today.
"Here, now we're still fighting discrimination, we're still fighting the lack of representation in our art in television and on stage," Lott-Rogers said. "It's a lonely walk to be the first of anything, to break through that wall, that ceiling and make it possible for other people."
Playwright LaDarrion Williams came to Hollywood from Alabama with talent and goals, but ended up living in his car.
"It was very hard, and there were times, I wanted to give up," Williams said. "I actually remember working at Target and Viola Davis came in my line, and that was a very dark day for me and just seeing her, right there all regular, this is a sign just to keep going."
Photos at the theater honor Black artists who've won Academy Awards.
"It wasn't until seeing Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney win that Oscar, I was like, I know I can do this, because imagery is so powerful, especially when you see people who look like you getting that Oscar award, so I've always dreamed of that, ever since I was a kid," Williams said. "We all go through those storms of 'no's' but it just takes one 'yes,' one person to believe in you and that can change your entire trajectory in your career and your personal life. So I'm really grateful for TimeLine giving me that simple 'yes.'"
Having been through tough times himself, Williams shared what kept him going: "Belief and courage and faith, sometimes they waiver. A day of grace, just give yourself grace."
You can see "Boulevard Of Bold Dreams" at TimeLine Theatre in Lakeview through March 19.