As a hair enthusiast I was super excited to watch Netflix’s original series Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam CJ Walker. While I was entertained by it, I was greatly disappointed by the historical inaccuracy of the film and the pushing of the same old stereotypes.
At the beginning of the series, I quickly caught onto how they were trying to low key use the fictional character Addie Monroe to talk about hair care mogul Annie Malone. Not only was it not cool that they tried to perpetuate the stereotype of we are always working against each other and colorism, it simply was not true.
Annie Malone was Madam CJ Walker’s mentor, which means Annie was the complete opposite of an enemy. In fact, she is truly the first black female US millionaire but often gets overlooked. I know this because I personally did research about this for my Adelphee Black Herstory Series.
My first thought was that the creators of this series wanted to find ways to make the story more sensational and juicy, but come one there could have been other ways. I am sure as one of the first black woman millionaires Madam CJ Walker faced a lot of racial tensions that she had to overcome. While this may have been more dark and saddening, it certainly would have been more truthful and still provided the intrigue that they were looking for.
I am definitely a big fan of Octavia Spencer and while the storyline had a lot of falsehoods I was entertained by it. However, I think it should be known that most of this portrayal is fictional. Younger viewers may not do their research and may take the series as gospel.
Annie Malone was a sister that uplifted Madam CJ Walker not a backstabbing enemy and should be remembered as such. Rest in power to both of these inspirational black queens.