Netflix Miniseries ‘Self Made:’: Everything we Know so Far

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Self Made – Copyright. Warner Bros. Television

Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer stars in Netflix’s latest drama miniseries Self Made. Inspired by the real-life of African American philanthropist Madam C.J. Walker, Self Made will be an incredibly dramatized account of history. Here’s everything we know so far about Self Made, including the plot, trailer, cast, and Netflix release date.

Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C. J. Walker is an upcoming Netflix Original biographical-drama series based on the book On Her Own Ground by author A’Lelia Bundles. The book of which the series is inspired from was written by the great-great-granddaughter of Madam C.J. Walker. The book has been adapted by Nicole Asher for television and has been directed by  Kasi Lemmons and DeMane Davis, respectively.

When is the Netflix release date for Self Made?

Self Made will be available to stream on Netflix on March 20th, 2020.

What is the plot of Self Made?

Exploring the life and career of political activist Sarah Breedlove, or more commonly known as Madam C.J. Walker. A social and political activist, Madam C.J. Walker became America’s first self-made millionaire, making her fortune through her hair care empire.

Who was Madam C.J. Walker?

Born in Delta, Louisana in 1967, Sarah Breedlove was the first of her siblings to be born free. Her family of one sister, four brothers and her parents had all been born into slavery and were enslaved by Robert W. Burney on the Madison Parish plantation.

Losing her parents in the early years of her life, at the age of ten, Sarah moved to Vicksburg Mississippi to live with her older sister and brother-in-law. Working as a domestic servant, there were few opportunities for Sarah to thrive, especially as she had only received a few months of education during her attendance at Sunday school earlier in her life.

At 14, Sarah married Moses McWilliams and escaped the abuse of her brother-in-law. Three years into the marriage in 1885, her daughter A’Lelia Walker was born. Sadly, Moses died a couple of years later in 1887.

Pictured. Madam C.J. Walker

The birth of an empire

After the death of her husband, Sarah moved to St. Louis where three of her brothers lived. In her early days in St. Louis, Sarah earned barely more than a dollar working as a laundress.

Sarah learned much about haircare from, her brothers, who were working as barbers. At this time in history, haircare for African Americans wasn’t wildly available, and many health conditions related to poor hair care were rife within the community.

in 1904, Sarah began working for Annie Malone, selling hair-care products for a commission. During her time working for Annie Malone, Sarah learned enough about the industry to develop her own product.

In 1905, Sarah and her daughter moved to Denver, Colorado. She continued to sell products from Annie Malone, but on the side was developing her own products to rival her employer.

Madam C.J. Walker

in 1906, Sarah married for the third time, marrying Charles Walker. To help market her company and product she became known as Madam C.J. Walker. Charles was also her business partner, and the pair became a power couple for hair care.

Using her skills from selling for Annie Malone, Walker would go door to door to sell her product. She would also teach other black women to how to groom and style their own hair. Eventually, the Walkers would leave Colorado, and relocate the business to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Opening a beauty parlor, and continuing to train black women, Made C.J. Walker’s hair care empire began to take off.

By 1919, several thousand women were working as sales agents for Walker. The output of the product was greatly increased after she bought a factory in Indianapolis, opening up a hair salon and beauty school to help train her agents.

Pictured. Pomade manufactured by the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company.

Philanthropist and Activist

Thanks to her influence in the African American community, not to mention her vast wealth, Madam C.J. Walker became a well known political activist and philanthropist.

Throughout her time as an activist, Walker spent thousands of dollars on causes to further help the African American community. Some of her donations were given to organizations such as;

  • YMCA
  • Tuskegee Institute
  • Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Bethune-Cookman University
  • Palmer Memorial Institute

Walker was the first to commission Vertner Tandy, the very first licensed black architect in New York City. She commissioned Tandy to design her house in Irvington-on-Hudson.

Now known as Villa Lewaro, the $250,000 home became a home for community leaders to gather and inspire other African Americans.

Pictured. Villa Lewaro

Madam C.J. Walker’s death and legacy

By the time of her death in 1919, Madam C.J. Walker was worth an estimated $600,000, which in today’s money equates to around $8.8 million. Before her death, she had given an estimated $100,000 to orphanages, charities, individuals and other institutions.

Walker was the wealthiest African American woman in America.

Two of Walker’s properties have since been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, her home, Villa Lwearo in Irvington-on-Hudson, and the Walker Manufacturing Company headquarters, which has since been renamed to Madam Walker Theatre Center.

Who are the cast members of Self Made?

The following cast members have been confirmed to be starring in the Original miniseries:

Role Cast Member Where Have I Seen/Heard Them Before?
Sarah Breedlove Octavia Spencer Hidden Figures | The Help | Fruitvale Station
CJ Walker Blair Underwood Deep Impact | Gattaca | Rules of Engagement
Nettie Ransom Zahra Bentham Guidance | White Lie | Spinning Out
Ransom Kevin Carroll The Leftovers | Snowfall | Sacred Lies
Addie Carmen Ejogo Selma | It Comes at Night | Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Lelia Tiffany Haddish Girls Trip | Keanu | The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Peaches Keeya King Van Helsing | Private Eyes | The Handmaid’s Tale
Cleophus Garrett Morris Saturday Night Live | Coneheads | Ant-Man
Esther Mouna Traoré The Drop In | In Contempt | Condor
Dora Larrie Sydney Morton The Intern | Jessica Jones | Manifest


How many episodes will the miniseries feature?

The miniseries has been confirmed to have a total of four episodes.

What are the episode run times?

With only four episodes available, we are safe to assume that each episode will have an estimated run time between 45 and 60 minutes

Is the series age-appropriate for my children?

We have no confirmation on the parental rating of Self Made. As for the themes that could be seen in the series may not be appropriate for children.

The time period of which Self Made is set, in the late 19th century and early 20th century, African-Americans didn’t have any rights, and sadly it’s a time in US history when African Americans were subjected to racism, segregation and were without the same set of rights as we know it today.

Self Made could be an opportunity to educate some, but racial themes and foul language may not be appropriate. Although that is completely up to any parent’s discretion.

Are you going to be watching Self Made: Inspired by The Life of Madam C.J. Walker? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by

Jacob joined What's on Netflix in 2018 as a fulltime writer having worked in numerous other industries until that point. Jacob covers all things Netflix whether that's TV or movies but specializes in covering new anime and K-dramas. Resides in Norwich in the United Kingdom.