Madam C.J. Walker (Octavia Spencer), was given the name of Sarah Breedlove at birth. Born just two years after the end of the Civil War, her early life was difficult. Working as a laundress to take care of herself and her daughter, Lelia (Tiffany Haddish), her fate changes when she meets Addie (Carmen Ejojo). Addie is a successful hairstylist who offers to help Sarah with her hair in return for free laundry.
When Sarah shows that she has a skill for sales, Addie turns her down. This leads Sarah, who will soon be known as Madam C.J. Walker down the path of starting her own business. But, like any new business, there are pitfalls. Sarah’s 3rd husband, Charles James Walker (Blair Underwood) appears to be accepting of his wife’s non-traditional choices. There are also betrayals and Addie’s constant attempts to bring Sarah down once and for all.
I enjoyed this miniseries. It was a history lesson without feeling like a history lesson. As we look to the past and voices who previously have been silenced or minimized, this series highlights the accomplishments of those who rightly deserve the limelight.
I recommend it.
Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker is available for streaming on Netflix.
The daughter of an African-American mother and an Ethiopian Jewish father, Haddish celebrated her fortieth birthday and embraced her father’s Judaism earlier this month.
I love that she is Jewish and she embraced her Judaism. I love that she reminds audiences that not all Jews look and/or sound like Barbra Streisand or Fran Drescher. We come from all parts of the world and speak as many languages are there are to speak. Some of us have lighter skin, some of us have darker skin.
Either way, we are all Jews and Tiffany Haddish is one of us.
When it comes to gangster films, female characters usually fall into one of two categories. If they are any sort of prominence within the narrative, they usually fall within the romantic or familial label: wife/girlfriend/mistress or the sister/mother/ daughter. If they are not prominent within the narrative, they are a nameless and faceless background character.
The new movie, The Kitchen attempts to change that. Based on the comic book of the same name, the film is set in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City in 1978. The Irish mob, known as the Westies, unofficially rules the neighborhood. When three of their members are sent to jail, their wives take their places within the mob organization.
Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy) is a devoted wife and mother. Ruby O’Carroll (Tiffany Haddish) is treated like an outsider because she is an African-American woman married to a Caucasian man. Claire Walsh (Elisabeth Moss) has been knocked around by her husband more times than she can count.
Not only must the women contend with opposition from the men, they must also content with the fact they are breaking the law.
What I hate is that this movie has so much potential going for it. It has a great cast and a narrative, that if written well, could be compelling. Instead, this movie falls flat on it’s face.