Netflix's Self Made Star Octavia Spencer On Why 'The Time Was Right' To Tell Madam C.J.'s Story

The cast of Netflix's Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker

Octavia Spencer has more than proven herself to be a high-caliber actor, having even picked up an Academy Award for her work. However, she’s more recently taken the reins as a producer. Her newest project, Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C. J. Walker, pays tribute to one of history’s most influential entrepreneurs, and Spencer thought a production focusing on Walker’s legacy was long overdue:

When Christine and Mark Holder brought the project to me, I jumped on board, because I knew how important Madam's legacy was. And the fact that we hadn't told her story in this medium, I felt that the time was right. Especially since I felt like we knew about Madam C.J., but her story is almost gone. I didn't want her to be omitted by time. And it was just important to be a part of it. We got to do it with Maverick Carter and LeBron James, and I mean, it's just a wealth of riches.

Octavia Spencer was passionate while discussing the limited series with ET and was more than grateful to her collaborators for helping to make the project a reality.

The story of Madam C.J. Walker, or Sarah Breedlove, takes place in the early 1900s, during which she builds a cosmetics and haircare empire. Although the events of the show take place over 100 years in the past, Spencer thinks the story is still more than relevant today:

It's really a modern story, think about it. I mean, she got up by her bootstraps, said I want to create a product, no one believed her, she kept fighting for it and got it done. . . . The vibe is still real today, for all the women, that you guys can kick butt and start a business or follow a career a certain way and live your dream. That's what I think is the universal story.

It's honestly difficult to disagree with Octavia Spencer’s point, as there are still plenty of women seeking to make names for themselves as business owners and facing some of the same hurdles as Walker.

With other films centered on real businesswomen (like Joy and Coco Before Chanel) having been released in the last few years, it’s only right that Madam C.J. Walker – who’s known as America’s first female self-made millionaire -- get her time in the limelight.

If Octavia Spencer and her team decide to move forward with more Self Made limited series, they could shine a light on a host of other African-American pioneers who aren’t typically explored. Think about it. We’ve seen numerous projects centered on athletes like Jackie Robinson or Civil Rights Leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. Yet people like George Washington Carver and Shirely Chisholm are rarely depicted on screen.

Let’s just hope that some of these unsung heroes get their time in the sun, whether it be through Self Made or other projects. Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C. J. Walker is now streaming on Netflix.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.