With all of us staying indoors, the need for more diverse entertainment as well as encouragement due to our lost routines is much needed. That’s why, when Netflix announced that it would release the miniseries Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker, starring Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer in the titular role, we were beyond elated. After all, besides the inclusion of all-star cast (including actors Blair Underwood and Tiffany Haddish), Madam C.J. Walker’s life and business have had a huge impact on Black women and men across the globe. This impact is being highlighted once again as the coronavirus pandemic has limited the world’s Black community’s access to haircare products.

So who is Madam C.J. Walker anyway?

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Born Sarah Breedlove in 1986, she became Madam C. J. Walker by marriage.


History describes her as the world’s first female self-made millionaire in the United States and she was an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political and social activist. Most importantly she was the founder of Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company a business that established the first line of cosmetics and hair care products for Black women and afforded her fortune.

Netflix’s new series about Walker follows the obstacles she was forced to navigate as a woman of color.


Produced by NBA player LeBron James and Spencer, is set in the early 20th-century setting where Black men and women would have to take great and nearly impossible strides to come up in the world. Facing extreme racism and sexism, Walker managed to do so, and in addition to this, she succeeded in revolutionizing Black beauty standards, giving Black people access to products that catered to their hair needs.

Interestingly enough, Netflix’s release of the new mini-series comes at a time when Black women face the dilemma of how to manage their hair in quarantine.

This, now as the coronavirus pandemic has forced all nonessential businesses like salons to shutter. Black women and men are needing now to rely on themselves to not only care for their hair but also style it in ways that make them feel happy and comfortable. After all, even if we aren’t seeing anyone at the moment, everyone wants to feel beautiful.

As The Los Angeles Times points out, “Some women are taking the time to go natural and give their hair a break from weaves, chemicals, and heat styling; some are continuing to braid their hair or learning to braid for the first time; a few are confronting their natural hair texture after an extended break and panicking.”

Fortunately, we live in a world where we have access to resources like Youtube and blogs that can show women how to style their hair and keep it healthy. Who knew, the internet space would take on the modern role of Madam Walker?