Octavia Spencer’s Madam CJ Walker series has made its first major casting announcements since Spencer herself was announced for the Netflix project.
Tiffany Haddish, Carmen Ejogo, Blair Underwood, Garrett Morris and Kevin Carroll have been tapped for principal roles. According to the streaming giant, the four-part limited series, “tells the untold, culturally important, and highly relevant story of black hair care pioneer and mogul Madam CJ Walker and how she overcame hostile turn-of-the-century America, epic rivalries, tumultuous marriages and family challenges to become America’s first black, self-made female millionaire.” It is inspired by the book, On Her Own Ground by A’Lelia Bundles, Walker’s great-great-granddaughter.
Haddish will play Lelia, “the smart and feisty daughter of Sarah Breedlove and her late first husband. Raised by her single, hard-working mother, she is eager to be independent. After falling in love and marrying the feckless John Robinson, she frequently finds herself coming to her husband’s defenses.”
Ejogo will play Addie, “a hairstylist and former friend of Sarah Breedlove. She is a savvy business woman herself, who parlays her good looks and social standing into a profitable African American hair care business. Fiercely competitive, when she quickly dismisses Sarah’s ambitions to be one of her sales women, charting a course to become Sarah’s nemesis and rival.”
Underwood will play Chares James Walker, Sarah’s husband. “He’s incredibly supportive and encouraging of his wife’s hair product business, which he helps her run. CJ has a way of calming Sarah down and soothing her worries, but he grows concerned about her increasing stress over the ups and downs of her business.”
Morris will play Cleophus, CJ’s father, and “a former slave who comes to live with CJ and Sarah. He gets along well with Sarah and helps in her hair product business.”
Carroll will play Ransom, “a Pullman porter whose many degrees include law and patents from Columbia University. When he agrees to help Sarah with her hair product patents and becomes the company lawyer, he does his best to pull her back from what he feels is a risky expansion and efforts.”
Janine Sherman Barrois and Elle Johnson are the showrunners, writers and executive producers. Nicole Jefferson Asher is a co-executive producer and writer. Kasi Lemmons is the director of the pilot episode, which she executive produces. The project hails from LeBron James’ SpringHill Entertainment and Zero Gravity in association with Warner Bros. Television. Spencer, James, Maverick Carter, Jamal Henderson, Christine Holder and Mark Holder executive produce.
The project debuts in 2020 on Netflix.
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