The Cast and Characters of Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker

Title Card - Self Made Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker
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A guide for Netflix’s Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker featuring who plays who, character descriptions, and other noteworthy information.

Please Note: This content contains pertinent spoilers, descriptions are updated as new information is presented, images changed as better ones are captured, and this is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, guest star, or reoccurring role.

When you see #.#, that notes the season.episode (Example: Season 1, Episode 1 would be 1.1).

General Information

Network

Netflix

Creator(s)

Nicole Asher

First Aired

3/20/2020

Hashtag

#SelfMade

Notable Locations

St. Louis

Where the show starts, and Sarah grew up and met CJ.

Indianapolis

Where, in the first episode, Sarah and CJ move to start Sarah’s haircare business.

Sarah Breedlove aka Madam C.J. Walker (Octavia Spencer)

Sarah Breedlove aka Madam CJ Walker (Octavia Spencer) at the market.

Character Description

First Noted In: Episode 1: The Fight of the Century

Born two years after emancipation, orphaned at 7, married by 14, pregnant at 15, and widowed by 20, Sarah struggled in life and washed other people’s clothing to make a way. And in working hard and trying to keep a man, her hair fell out. But, thanks to Addie Monroe, she not only regained her hair but discovered there was an industry made for Black women. Granted, an untapped industry, but with Sarah looking more like the Black women Addie serviced, she used that to make herself an empire.

Additional Information About Sarah

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Sarah Quotes

I used to wonder, if God don’t like ugly, why did he make me? With so much beauty in this world, how come I got so little?
— Sarah (Season 1, Episode 1 “The Fight of the Century”

Everything we do as Negroes reflects back on us.
— Sarah (Season 1, Episode 1 “The Fight of the Century”

Dreams are God’s way of showing us his plans.
— Sarah (Season 1, Episode 2 “Bootstraps”)

It’s my duty to make money and use it for the benefit of my neighbors.
— Sarah, quoting John Rockefeller (Season 1, Episode 3 “The Walker Girl”)

Addie Monroe (Carmen Ejogo)

Addie Monroe (Carmen Ejogo) talking to Sarah.

Character Description

First Noted In: Episode 1: The Fight of the Century

A woman who has ridden the coattails of being light skinned and used it to advertise a hair care product that relied on old beliefs of being light-skinned meaning more beautiful to profit.

Additional Information About Addie

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Addie Quotes

Charles James “CJ” (Blair Underwood)

CJ (Blair Underwood) looking at his wife freak out.

Character Description

First Noted In: Episode 1: The Fight of the Century

Sarah’s second husband, who she gained after using Addie’s haircare product. By trade, the man is in advertising and is shown to be one of the people who allowed Sarah to flourish in the haircare industry.

Additional Information About CJ

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CJ Quotes

Lelia (Tiffany Haddish)

Lelia (Tiffany Haddish) looking worried, after the house burned down.

Character Description

First Noted In: Episode 1: The Fight of the Century

Sarah’s daughter, who she put through school and had such high hopes for.

Additional Information About Lelia

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Lelia Quotes

John (J. Alphonse Nicholson)

John (J. Alphonse Nicholson) looking dumbfounded after he burnt down Sarah's house.

Character Description

First Noted In: Episode 1: The Fight of the Century

Lelia’s first husband who was a musician with aspirations to open up a juke joint at one time.

Additional Information About John

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John Quotes

Mr. Rockefeller (Frank Moore)

Mr. Rockefeller (Frank Moore) taking a break from shooting.
Mr. Rockefeller (Frank Moore)

Character Description

First Noted In: Episode 4: A Credit To The Race

Madam C.J. Walker’s neighbor when she moves to Irvington, New York, and someone often cited as one of her inspirations.

Additional Information About Mr. Rockefeller

  •  

 Quotes

Margaret M. Washington (Kimberly Huie)

Margaret M. Washington (Kimberly Huie) listening to Sarah talk.
Margaret M. Washington (Kimberly Huie)

Character Description

First Noted In: Episode 2: Bootstraps

Booker T. Washington’s wife who, when he dismisses Sarah, uses her organization to invest in Sarah and her factory.

Additional Information About Margaret M. Washington

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 Quotes

Booker T. Washington (Roger Guenveur Smith)

Booker T. Washington (Roger Guenveur Smith) talking down to Madam CJ Walker.
Booker T. Washington (Roger Guenveur Smith)

Character Description

First Noted In: Episode 2: Bootstraps

One of the people Sarah was hoping could endorse her and assist with getting her factory off the ground, Booker T. Washington was someone Sarah looked up to due to his advocacy for Black folk owning businesses. However, with him not believing in the beauty industry, nor the idea of women getting aide before men, he turned out to be a waste of time to pursue.

Additional Information About Booker T. Washington

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 Quotes

Cleophus (Garrett Morris)

Cleophus (Garrett Morris) talking to his son.
Cleophus (Garrett Morris)

Character Description

First Noted In – Episode 1: The Fight of the Century

CJ’s father who lived his life in slavery time and often refers back to how his life was on a plantation, and still speaks with people who were on the one he was part of and those in traveling distance.

Additional Information About Cleophus

  •  

 Quotes

Esther (Mouna Traoré)

Esther (Mouna Taoré) talking to Lelia.
Esther (Mouna Taoré)

Character Description

First Noted In: Episode 2: Bootstraps

Esther is one of the first people who spark Lelia’s interest in women.

Additional Information About Esther

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 Quotes

Dora (Sydney Morton)

Dora (Sydney Morton) calling CJ on the phone.
Dora (Sydney Morton)

Character Description

First Noted In: Episode 3: The Walker Girl

One of Sarah’s top salespeople until she becomes disenchanted with Sarah’s promises for territories and her own salon.

Additional Information About Dora

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 Quotes

Freeman Ransom (Kevin Carroll)

Freeman Ransom (Kevin Carroll) at Sarah's factory.
Freeman Ransom (Kevin Carroll)

Character Description

First Noted In: Episode 2: Bootstraps

Freeman Ransom is a Columbia law school graduate who went from handling people’s suitcases to being Sarah’s lawyer and right-hand man.

Additional Information About Ransom

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 Quotes

Apprentice “Sweetness” Ransom (Bill Bellamy)

Sweetness (Bill Bellamy) talking to his cousin.
Sweetness (Bill Bellamy)

Character Description

First Noted In: Episode 2: Bootstraps

Freedom Ransom’s cousin who is a money man in the area who handles a lot of the gambling but, had aspirations to go legit, with his cousin’s help.

Additional Information About Sweetness

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 Quotes

W.E.B. DuBois (Cornelius Smith Jr.)

W.E.B. DuBois (Cornelius Smith Jr.) praising Madam CJ Walker.
W.E.B. DuBois (Cornelius Smith Jr.)

Character Description

First Noted In: Episode 3: The Walker Girl

While known to Sarah and her daughter, to much surprise W.E.B. DuBois knows of Sarah as well. Primarily due to her confrontation with Booker T. Washington, who he is not fond of.

Additional Information About W.E.B. DuBois

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 Quotes

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