Louise Beavers (March 8, 1902 - October 26, 1962) was an African American film actress. Beavers appeared in dozens of films from the 1920s to the 1930s, most often in the role of a maid, servant, or slave. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Beavers was a member of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, one of the four African-American sororities.
Beavers' most famous and noted role was her portrayal of Delilah Johnson, the housekeeper/cook whose employer transforms her into an Aunt Jemima-like celebrity in the 1934 film Imitation of Life. One of the film's main conflicts was that between Delilah and her light-skinned daughter Peola (played by Fredi Washington), who wanted to pass for white. Imitation of Life was the first time in American cinema history that a black woman's problems were given major emotional weight in a major Hollywood motion picture.
The vast majority of Beavers' other film roles, however, were not as prestigious. Along with Hattie McDaniel, she became the on-screen personification of the "mammy" stereotype: a large, matronly black woman with a quick temper, a large laugh, and a subservient manner. Beavers' employers had her overeat so that she could maintain her "mammy"-like figure. Although Beavers did not approve of how her characters were scripted, she nonetheless continued appearing in films, because, as her contemporary McDaniel once stated, "it's better to play a maid than be a maid."