Spencer will star in the eight-episode series, which is based on the book On Our Own Ground by A’Lelia Bundles, Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, who will also serve as a consultant. The show will recount the untold story of how Walker, a black hair care pioneer and mogul, overcame hostile turn-of-the-century America, epic rivalries, tumultuous marriages and some trifling family to become America’s first black, self-made female millionaire.
Black Nativity helmer Kasi Lemmons will direct the pilot and also exec produce, and Nicole Asher is penning the script. Janine Sherman Barroisand Elle Johnson will also serve as executive producers, along with Maverick Carter of James’ SpringHill Entertainment, and Zero Gravity’s Mark Holder and Christine Holder. The project hails from Warner Bros. Television.
“It’s so exciting for all of us to keep building SpringHill, see it mature, and continue to find its voice. We are really focused on growing with authenticity and substance,” Carter said. “For us, this is totally about great stories and great partners. Partnering with Octavia to tell the story of Madam C.J. Walker is the ideal first project for SpringHill to take an important step into scripted drama.”
Walker, the daughter of slaves, was orphaned at age seven, married at 14, and widowed at 20. She spent two decades laboring as a washerwoman, earning $1.50 a week. Everything changed, though, following Walker’s discovery of a revolutionary hair care formula for black women. By the time she died in 1919, she had built a beauty empire from the ground up, amassing wealth unprecedented among black women.
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