2020 Preview: ‘Self Made’ EP on the Challenges Madam C.J. Walker Faced


The holiday season is over, but TV has some new gifts you’ll never want to return. Settle in for 12 months of fan-favorite stars (Fran Drescher, Edie Falco), inspiring physical feats (the Olympics), new streaming services, and another must-see season of Outlander.

Access to countless hair products is a click away today, but what did consumers — especially African-American women — do in 1908? That’s where this limited series starts, with savvy entrepreneur Sarah Breedlove, aka Madam C.J. Walker (Octavia Spencer), tapping into the need of an underserved demographic to become America’s first self-made black female millionaire.

“Sarah had a natural sense of how to market herself and her product and studied the great moguls of the time, like John Rockefeller,” Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker executive producer Janine Sherman Barrois says.

Based on the biography On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, written by Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, the drama shows how she built her empire alongside her loving husband, C.J. (Blair Underwood), and feisty daughter, Leila (Tiffany Haddish). But support was not universal.

“Sarah dreamed women could be breadwinners, but this notion was challenged by the establishment, political leaders, and also traditional marriage,” Barrois explains.

(Amanda Matlovich/Netflix)

Self Made: Inspired By the Life of Madam C.J. Walker, Series Premiere, Friday, March 20, Netflix