UPDATE: According to Deadline, it’s now official that Octavia Spencer will star and also produce a “limited series” based on Madam C.J. Walker. The story will be derived from her definitive biography On Her Ground, written by Madam Walker’s great-great granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles. There’s no word yet on which network will pick up the series.
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There might be a movie coming about Madam CJ Walker and we couldn’t be more excited.
Recently, Octavia Spencer sat down with the New York Times to discuss her life and her career. In that interview the topic of typecasting and the lack of dynamic roles available to Black women inevitably came up. It was during this exchange that Octavia shares her passion for changing the landscape by taking on more of a producer and creator role. In doing that, she shares she’s optioned the rights of several books including that of Madam CJ Walker. This is a small portion of the interview, but ShadowandAct shined a light on how major something like that is.
“Since making ‘Hidden Figures,’ I don’t have a problem saying to a room of male executives: ‘I need a female writer or a female director,’ or ‘I need a black voice or a Latin voice,’” she said. “I do not feel bad about it,” declared Octavia in her New York Times interview.
Madam CJ Walker is the first American woman to become a self-made millionaire. What she achieved during a time when women did not even have the right to vote and Black people were still lawfully segregated and not afforded many rights is phenomenal. It’s part of the thread of not only Black history but American history that is often lost.
Madam Walker’s great-great granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles confirmed that Octavia has optioned the rights to the biography but that’s “all she could say for now.” At this point, it’s too soon to tell if this will manifest at all and if it does whether it will be a movie or mini-series or something else entirely. However, the simple possibility that this could become a movie offers hope in an industry that still offers a narrow view of what Black women are capable of achieving.
“I’ve yet to play anyone who remotely resembles me,” Octavia shares in the New York Times interview. “I’m carefree. I don’t have kids. I’m more of a romantic comedy, dating the wrong people and trying to find love.”
Black women are much more than what the media and Hollywood typically showcases. It’s part of the reason why hashtags like #BlackGirlMagic exist. Black women are taking the power back from the media and uplifting themselves, each other and spotlighting the diverse ways Black women are amazing.
[Editor's note: The previous headline for this piece was - There Could Be A Madam CJ Walker Movie On The Way]