Tiffany Haddish, Blair Underwood and More to Join Octavia Spencer in Netflix's Madam CJ Walker

Tiffany Haddish (L), Octavia Spencer and Blair Underwood
Tiffany Haddish (L), Octavia Spencer and Blair Underwood
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images), Mike Coppola (Getty Images), Dimitrios Kambouris (Getty Images)

Talk about “Strong Black Leads”! It looks like Netflix’s Madam C.J. Walker, co-produced and starring Octavia Spencer in the titular role, will have a star-studded cast. Our friends at Shadow & Act report that Tiffany Haddish, Blair Underwood, Carmen Ejogo, Garrett Morris and Kevin Carroll will all be appearing in the four-part limited series when it premieres in 2020.

In fact, Underwood will reportedly play Walker’s supportive husband, Charles James “C.J.” Walker, while Morris has been cast as his father, former slave Cleophus. Haddish has been cast to play Walker’s daughter, 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,” according to a statement from the network procured by S&A.

Inspired by the book On Her Own Ground: The Life & Times of Madam C.J. Walker by Walker’s great-great-granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles, Madam C.J. Walker is shaping up to be a must-see cinematic event. Big names are behind the scenes, too; in addition to Spencer, LeBron James is executive producing along with Maverick Carter, via SpringHill Entertainment and Zero Gravity, in association with Warner Bros. Eve’s Bayou director Kasi Lemmons is set to direct and executive produce the pilot episode, while Janine Sherman Barrois and Elle Johnson are on board as showrunners, writers and executive producers. Nicole Jefferson Asher will serve as a co-executive producer and writer of the series, which boasts additional executive producers Jamal Henderson, Christine Holder, and Mark Holder.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?

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I’ll be interested to see how they broach this in light of the movement to destigmatize our natural hair. Growing up, Madame CJ Walker was a huge Black history fact. But, with older eyes, I also see that her methods and business were part of the brainwashing of all of America that Black hair is bad and needs to be controlled and tamed.

I’m not sure you can create a movie about her without addressing how her achievements also added a heavy weight to her own people.