CULTURE

Octavia Spencer Will Play Madam C.J. Walker in a New Netflix Series

It’s based on the life of America’s first self-made black female millionaire.


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Octavia Spencer has played both God and NASA mathematician Dorothy Vaughn over the course of her Oscar-winning career, and now she’s adding another icon to her résumé. On Sunday, Deadline reported that Netflix has announced Spencer will be playing Madam C.J. Walker in a new drama series based on the black cosmetics mogul’s life. Working during the turn of the last century, Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, became the first self-made black female millionaire after she developed a line of game-changing hair and beauty products made specifically for black women. Her brand — Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture — is still sold today.

According to Deadline, the eight-episode Netflix series is based on the biography On Her Own Ground, by A’Lelia Bundles, Walker’s great-great-granddaughter. While it’s not clear how much time the series will cover, Deadline indicates it will be set in America at the turn of the last century and involve storylines surrounding her rivalries, marriages, and family members. In addition to starring, Deadline reported, Spencer will executive produce alongside LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Mark Holder, Christine Holder, and showrunners Janine Sherman Barrois and Elle Johnson. Kasi Lemmons is set to direct and executive produce the first episode, while the writer is Nicole Asher.

According to Variety, Spencer was devoted to playing the role, pursuing it as soon as she heard the book had been optioned. On Sunday, the actress took to her Instagram to celebrate the announcement. “I’m landing to news and what not!!! Thrilled to be working with @Springhill #ZeroGravity and #Netflix to tell the story of #MadamCJWalker,” she captioned a screenshot of a headline. “Let her story be your beacon of hope!!!”

You’ll be seeing a lot of Spencer on your small screen soon. In addition to this project, she’s also starring in the Reese Witherspoon-produced series Are You Sleeping.

Related: Jessica Chastain Helped Get Octavia Spencer Get Five Times Her Pay for Their Holiday Comedy