Octavia Spencer is set to star in a produced an upcoming limited series about the life and work of pioneering beauty entrepreneur and philanthropist Madam C.J. Walker. The project will be under Zero Gravity Management, the team behind Beasts of No Nation and based on the 2002 bestselling biography On Her Own Ground, by A’Lelia Bundles, a great-great granddaughter of Walker. The upcoming series will be written by Nicole Asher and Kasi Lemmons.
Born Sarah Breedlove in 1867, Madam C. J. Walker was the daughter of slaves. Walker was orphaned at the age of 7, married at 14, and became a widow at 20. She spent nearly twenty years of her life working as a washerwoman for a meager wage. When she discovered a revolutionary haircare for black woman, her life changed dramatically. She soon launched a new business which grew into a beauty empire, eventually earning her the title of the first female self-made millionaire in America. Walker also dedicated her life to activism and philanthropy and frequently worked with influential figures such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington.
Walker passed in 1919, but her legacy lives on. Her story serves as inspiration for budding black women entrepreneurs and her iconic haircare line was recently revived by Sundial Brands, the company behind Shea Moisture.
There have been a number of documentaries about Walker’s life and her impact, but the upcoming project starring Spencer is the first time her life has gotten the biopic treatment.