12 thoughts on “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker (2020)

  1. Yes, I’ve seen Self-Made. I enjoyed it immensely for several reasons. The acting was excellent, how the story has resonated today with marriage dynamics (Mr Walker started off as a good man, but ego got in way & he became a cad), how it uplifts the spirit, empowerment of women, and the way it made me want to know more – I’ve reserved the book at the library, who knows when it will reopen.

    What I didn’t like so much were the costumes. Deborah Lynn Scott was able to fit Kathy Bates in Titanic and make her as Molly Brown look fantastic and a bit of a rebel – very in character of the silver baroness. Octavia Spencer looked uncorseted as she moved up in Society. The only dresses I liked was the lilac party dress, the black chinoiserie dress and the blue at the end (but it didn’t fit right imho). Obs the fitter hadn’t worked with plus size women. The really nice thing about the costumes is that they reflected Sarah’s monetary success. On the whole I gave Ms Karyn Wagner a B-.

  2. Glad to hear the story is good! Been at my machine so not watching tons right now but maybe this is a good one to pop on, especially with eyes distracted (although those church ladies look amazing).

  3. Fun fact: my great grandmother benefited from Madam’s initiatives. She studied hairdressing at one of Madam’s schools and went on to run her own business.

  4. I was a bit confused because I think Octavia Spencer said she wore corsets for this role and yet I also noticed it looked like she didn’t with a lot of the costumes.

    I did like the story but the costumes distracted me a lot. There’s this very bright flowered dress Addie wears a few times that I hated so much, it wasn’t period at all but she was supposed to be this really fashionable woman.

    It makes me a bit sad that one of the only shows focusing on a real historical black woman who found success just doesn’t look as good as it could have.

    1. It looks like they hired a modern costume designer who is used to seeing the frumpy Lane Bryant a la 1990s silhouette, then, rather than one who understands HOW corsets & Edwardian fashion can fit and flatter someone who is more voluptuous. What a waste of a beautiful full figure! :(

  5. Am I the only one who actually had major issues with the changes the show made to history? There’s a sensitive and thoughtful way to address colorism within the African American community, and turning every light-skinned character into a snobby, scheming, villian is not the way to do it. There wasn’t a single positive light-skinned character on the show. Even Booker T Washington is changed to be a massive jerk.

    The way “Addie” was portrayed was particularly bad. The real life Annie Malone was a philanthropist who hired Madame C.J. Walker as a saleswoman, not a narcissitic snob sneering, “Ew, you’re too dark to ever work for me.” At one point, there were even characters smugly laughing that her light skin isn’t enough to save her from being hit by an abusive husband.

    I’m normally okay with some changes to history, and I recognize that some light-skinned people probably were elitist jerks. But the direction Self Made went with all that was actually bad enough to turn me off the whole show. It’s hard to watch something meant to be an uplifting show focusing on women of color when it spends a bunch of its time villianizing people of color for not being the right shade.

    1. Thank you for pointing this out! I’m not as familiar with that dynamic myself, so it would have passed me by without a thought.

  6. That first suit of Madam’s, the blue one, is lovely and convincing. Lelia’s prescient bob might be more of her lean-bohemianism. Google-image “Irene Castle.” She cut her hair about 1914, and became an early model for the long, elegant silhouette of the ’20s.

  7. I’ve watched the first episode so far–I’m liking the show–I’m only familiar with the bare bones of the history, so I’m interested to know how faithful it is to the facts. As far as the costuming goes, some of it is good and some of it seems like they hit 1980s fabric store dead stock, particular Addie’s costumes. And the cut and fit of Sarah, Madame Walker’s costumes, seemed mostly off to me–too simple compared to the other costumes. The overall production design seems great, though.

  8. I can’t think of much that I liked about this series. I think that there was some superb acting from some of the actors, namely Octavia and Blair. But Tiffany Haddish should probably stick to comedy. If any of you have seen The Kitchen you know exactly what I mean. Everything felt all over the place. The way that colorism in the black community as well as unconfirmed rumors that A’Lelia was queer was handled in a way that seemed inappropriate and disrespectful to the legacies that all these women built.
    All that aside (because I’ve definitely watched an awful movie with great costumes) the costumes were an absolute problem for me. Not only were the majority of them not period accurate, the weren’t interesting AND they looked cheap. It looked like something that you might see in a high school production. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I was so looking forward to seeing Madame C.J. Walker’s story be brought to life. But this mini-series fell short for me on ALL accounts.

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