Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer says one of the ways she plans to challenge Hollywood’s diversity problem is by optioning books, and of special note, one of them is a book on Madam C. J. Walker.
Walker is considered the first self-made African American female millionaire. She made her fortune by developing and marketing a line of beauty and hair products for black women through Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, the successful business she founded. She was also known for her philanthropy and activism.
Walker was born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867, and went on to invent hair products for African Americans in the very early 1900s. She promoted her products by traveling around the country giving lecture-demonstrations and eventually established Madame C.J. Walker Laboratories to manufacture cosmetics and train sales beauticians, per Shadow and Act. The Madame Walker Theatre Center opened in Indianapolis in 1927 to continue her legacy.
There are a many books available about Madam C.J. Walker, but the most notable is, “On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker,” the “definitive biography” of Madam C. J. Walker, which was written by her great-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles.
Which book Spencer plans to take on remains a mystery, but it’s assumed that she will go with the first comprehensive biography of Walker. who died of hypertension in 1919, at age 51, at the estate home she had built for herself in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York.
At the time of her death, Walker was sole owner of her business, which was valued at more than $1 million (about $14 million in today). In 1998, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp of Madam C.J. Walker as part of its “Black Heritage” series.
Spencer hasn’t revealed what stage of development she’s in with the book she has optioned, but many are hoping for an official Madam C. J. Walker movie of the week ASAP!
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