Persistence in beating the odds shown in ‘Self-Made’

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“Self Made” is a limited series based on the life of Sarah Breedlove or “Madam C. J. Walker,”   the first female self-made millionaire in the United States. 

The series follows her rise from humble beginnings to becoming a brand name.  

Netflix and many celebrity executive producers backed this production with big names like Lebron James and Octavia Spencer, who also star in the series.

“Self Made” may be set in the early 1900s but there is a contemporary lens applied to Walker’s story. The soundtrack is mainly composed of songs like “Harlem Shake” and other R&B styled songs. Other aspects include scenes of Addie, Walker’s main rival, and Walker fighting in a ring which may have been a good idea in writing, but appears to be a waste of time and production resources. 

The contemporary flair did not work with the storyline and distracted from the growth of Walker and her company. The attempt to make the story more accessible to younger generations takes away some of the authenticity of the work itself.

The characters Sarah and Addie were something  enjoyable to watch because it introduced a previous race dynamic I had not previously been aware of, despite the awkward application of contemporary lens. Even though the real Annie Malone was not a lighter color than Walker, the color hierarchy and pitting women against each other was relevant and is still relevant to the world we live in today. 

An example of a scene that really shined a light on how women of lighter skin were considered the top of the hierarchy was when Addie called her grandmother to receive some consolement from failing to beat Sarah. Instead of being soothed, her grandmother tells her that with her light skin she can do anything and asks for her to send money back. Addie is not seen as a person but as a cash cow who had the ability to be successful only because she could pass as white. 

There may have been numerous faults in the portrayal of various historical figures and in the cinematography itself, yet  the consistent determination we saw in Sarah to succeed made up for most of these faults. She never gave up on her dream even when numerous obstacles were in her way. 

Her legacy as a businesswoman inspired centuries of other women to never quit. Her persistence in beating the odds gave me faith in myself to follow my dreams, even though a lot stands in the way. 

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)