In 2018, Netflix announced that it was developing an original series that would focus on the untold story of one of the most influential figures in Black history, one Madam C.J. Walker. Produced by NBA titan LeBron James, Self Made: Inspired By The Life of Madam C.J. Walker will highlight the origins of the icon and celebrate her impact on Black culture as we know it.
The cast of the upcoming historical show is made up of familiar faces. Octavia Spencer will play the hair maven herself, and Blair Underwood (When They See Us, Dear White People) is slated to star as her husband, C.J. Walker. Comedian Tiffany Haddish, Carmen Ejogo, and Garrett Morris will also appear in the limited series.
Set in the late 1800s, Self Made is an adaptation of the 2001 book On Her Own Ground, which was written by Walker's great-great granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles. The story will take audiences through the maverick's inspiring journey from working in the cotton fields of Louisiana to becoming a self-made millionaire.
The Netflix series also promises to shine a light on Walker's passion for social justice; along with being a force in the beauty industry, she was also a passionate activist. Walker was on the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) and led the charge against racial violence against the Black community with the 1917 Silent Protest Parade.
It's important to Walker's family that her story reflects just how far reaching her influence was when she was alive. Yes, she revolutionized Black haircare — and could technically be considered one of the earliest beauty influencers — but Walker also used her platform and her resources to change the world for good.
"What I really want to make sure of is that Madam Walker is seen as a multi-dimensional person," Bundles told Refinery29 of the forthcoming series. "People might know a little bit about her, and mainly about her hair company and her as a businesswoman. But I'm eager for people to see her as truly a groundbreaking figure, not only in beauty, but in equality and fighting to empower women and Black people across the world."
A four part series, Self Made: Inspired By The Life of Madam C.J. Walker will be available for streaming on Netflix on March 20, 2020