Parents' Guide to

Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker

By Lynnette Nicholas, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Solid drama highlights the life of legendary entrepreneur.

TV Netflix Drama 2020
Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 16+

Not a great theme

I did not like the main character much. She only cared about herself. She was obsessed with her need for success to the point where everyone she comes in contact with is a pawn in her scheme to be successful. She neglected her family, treated friends horribly if she was unable to control them for her own use. Not a fan

This title has:

Too much sex
age 11+

This Show shows you how Madam C.J. Walker became The First Self-Made Millionaire in America. And it’s a inspiring Rags to Riches Story with Perseverance, Bravery, Team Work, Hard Work that reminds us all of what’s possible.

This title has:

Educational value
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6 ):
Kids say (3 ):

The series provides a sophisticated perspective of how astute, cultured, and hard-working African Americans navigated, endured, and even overcame setbacks. Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker highlights several prominent African American figures, including Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, and more, as well as prominent, historically Black institutions like Tuskegee Institute and Spelman College during a very pivotal time in American history. Overall, the series does a good job of providing a glimpse of what life was like for middle-class and elite members of African American society in the latter part of the 19th century and the early 20th century. Through the plights of both Addie Monroe (Carmen Ejogo), a light-skinned Black woman, and Walker, viewers get a glimpse of the residue of colonialism and slavery in the form of colorism, an issue in African American communities for many generations.

However, while the legacy and story of Walker is both inspirational and powerful, and the set design wonderfully detailed, the series has some distracting production elements. The music soundtrack feels too modern for the time period, and the present-day boxing scenes don't add much to the overall storyline. Standouts include Blair Underwood in his role as Walker's second husband, C.J. Walker; the amazingly talented Roger Guenveur Smith as Booker T. Washington; and Carmen Ejogo, who masterfully portrays a fierce competitor who has internalized a superiority complex as a result of having a fairer complexion. Viewers will be inspired as they watch a woman ahead of her time carve out her place in history during a time period when social norms called for women to let the men take the lead in matters of business.

TV Details

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