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Why Netflix’s ‘Self Made’ actress Octavia Spencer is an inspiration

This is where Hollywood is right now and there’s nowhere else to go but up, people.

As she was growing up, actress Octavia Spencer was inspired by stories of the great Madam C.J. Walker. Walker was one of the first black, female, and self-made millionaires in America. Now that’s a story to tell! In 1867, Walker amounted to washing clothes for white families before she created an absolute empire for women of color––providing them with hair care and makeup products.

“She was a woman of purpose,” Spencer says. “I’ve always known her story. But what’s interesting is her legacy is known in African American culture, but not really by the masses.”

As a tribute, the prestigious actress will be helping out in telling Madam Walker’s story all around the world. She will be starring as the entrepreneur in the Netflix limited series Self Made. Walker was and still is an inspiration to many today and Spencer will be the same for future generations.

“I remember one of the first jobs I had … there was no makeup for me,” Spencer says. “From then on, I always carry my own makeup. I don’t have to now, but I definitely [carried] my own makeup to sets.”

In an interview with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross, she emphasized on different important aspects.

For example, on black women in Hollywood being paid less than white women:

“Oh, that was apparent from the start. You could tell by what an actor/actress gets in their deal. You can tell what an actor gets by what they receive on the sets. No one’s actually going to tell you what they make, but you can tell. I mean, we all knew, because what happens is when they’re putting together a production, they would cast the male lead, the white female lead, and then they come to you. And it’s like, “Well, we’ve given out all of our dollars. So here’s the change.” And that’s usually by the time they get to you … there’s very little money.”

“I just knew that I wasn’t going to take that much longer, especially with what I’ve been able to achieve as an actress. And women that I worked with, Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Jada Pinkett Smith, I mean, we all talk and we started talking numbers and realized that there definitely was a disadvantage that women of color receive and with regard to pay. And we shared information and we all learned how to speak up and say exactly what we want and dictate the terms that we needed in our negotiating process.”

A true inspiration for the future. Live long and prosper, Octavia Spencer––and you will always be in our hearts, Madam C.J. Walker.

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