An aspiring actress befriends a black widow, but trouble arises when the latter is rejected by her daughter, who tries to pass for white. Aspiring actress Lora Meredith meets Annie Johnson, a homeless black woman at Coney Island and soon they share a tiny apartment. Each woman has an intolerable daughter, though, Annie's little girl Sarah Jane.
The first of two film version of Fannie Hurst's novel, 1934's Imitation of Life chronicles the friendship between two women--one white (Claudette Colbert), one black (Louise Beavers). Colbert is a widow with a baby daughter who hires Beavers, who also has a daughter, as a housekeeper. Colbert is a working girl who yearns to operate her own business, which she does thanks to Beavers' special.