Netflix’s four-part mini-series Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker tells the true story of the trailblazing African American entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, whose haircare empire made her America’s first female self-made millionaire.
Thanks to an ensemble of recognizable actors, the series’ inspiring true story isn’t the only thing it has going for it. Here’s a quick rundown of all the main players:
Playing Self Made’s titular entrepreneur is Octavia Spencer, one of the most recognizable actresses in the world right now. She won an Oscar in 2012 for her performance in The Help, and was also nominated for her performances in Hidden Figures and The Shape of Water. Her TV career hasn’t been quite as extensive as her film work up to this point, but she's played recurring roles in shows like City of Angels, The Chronicle, Raising the Bar, Red Band Society, and Mom. She also currently stars in the Apple TV+ drama, Truth Be Told.
Golden Globe-nominated for his performances as Jonathan Rollins in L.A. Law and Alex Prince in HBO’s In Treatment, Blair Underwood is an experienced TV veteran. Most recently, he has played Moses Brown in Dear White People, Bobby Burns in When They See Us, Owen Hall in Quantico, and Andrew Garner in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He’s also appeared in notable shows like Dirty Sexy Money, Ironside, Sex and the City, and City of Angels. In Self Made, Underwood plays C.J. Walker, the husband of Spencer’s Sarah Breedlove.
Tiffany Haddish made waves with her breakout turn as Dina in 2017’s Girls Trip. She’s played roles in films like Night School, Nobody's Fool, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, The Kitchen, and this year’s Like a Boss. Haddish also currently stars alongside Tracy Morgan in TBS’ The Last O.G. She previously had roles on The Carmichael Show, Tuca & Bertie, Real Husbands of Hollywood, and If Loving You Is Wrong. In Self Made, she plays Lelia, the daughter of Spencer’s Sarah.
Hailing from the U.K., Ejogo has found her way into an increasing number of notable films and TV shows in recent years. She played Coretta Scott King, the civil rights activist and wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 2014’s Selma, starred as President Seraphina Picquery in the first two Fantastic Beasts films, and played Karine in 2017’s Alien: Covenant. She also starred in The Girlfriend Experience and the third season of HBO’s True Detective, where she played Amelia Reardon, a true crime author and the wife of Mahershala Ali’s Wayne Hays. In Self Made, she plays Addie, a business rival of Spencer’s Sarah Breedlove.
Playing the role of Ransom, the longtime lawyer of Madam C.J. Walker, is Kevin Carroll. This isn’t the first time the actor has delved into the world of prestige television. He received critical acclaim for his performance as John Murphy in the final two seasons of HBO’s The Leftovers, and has since appeared in FX’s Snowfall and the Facebook Watch original series Sacred Lies. He’s also had guest roles on shows like The Walking Dead, God Friended Me, Lucifer, Wisdom of the Crowd, The Last Tycoon, and The Catch.
A living legend, Garrett Morris was a member of the original cast of Saturday Night Live! Following his 5-year stint on SNL, Morris appeared as Stan Winters on Martin, Uncle Junior King on The Jamie Foxx Show, and Earl on 2 Broke Girls. More recently, he’s appeared as Lloyd in a few episodes of NBC’s This is Us. In Self Made, he plays Cleophus, Sarah Breedlove’s father-in-law.
Bentham most recently appeared as Alana in the Netflix drama, Spinning Out. Her other credits include guest roles on Save Me, Ransom, Private Eyes, Rookie Blue, and Cracked. In Self Made, she’ll be playing Nettie, the intelligent wife of Kevin Carroll’s Ransom, who is also a member of the National Association for Colored Women and a supporter of Walker’s business.
Playing the role of Peaches, a jazz singer who befriends Haddish’s Lelia, is actress Keeya King. This is her second-ever recurring role on a television series, coming off her turn as Violet on SyFy’s Van Helsing. She’s also made guest appearances on Hudson & Rex, The Detail, The Handmaid's Tale, and Private Eyes.
Traoré will be playing the role of Esther, a photographer and artistic young woman who gets in on the ground floor of Sarah’s company. Previously, Traoré has played Iris Loramer on Condor, Vanessa Hastings on BET’s In Contempt, and Rebecca James on Murdoch Mysteries. She's also had guest roles on shows like Shadowhunters, Hemlock Grove, and Rookie Blue.
Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker premieres Friday, March 20th on Netflix.
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Alex Welch has written about television and film for TV by the Numbers, IGN, The Berrics, Paste Magazine, Screen Rant and GeekNation. Follow him on Twitter @alexrwelch.