Netflix’s Self Made episode 1 ‘Fight of the Century’
The inspirational story of Sarah Breedlove who went from washwoman to Madam C.J. Walker, the first female and African American self-made millionaire.
We open 1908 in St. Louis with Sarah narrating about the importance of hair. She tells us about her hair loss and the return of her ex-con abusive husband who soon leaves her.
In walks mulatto Addie Munroe with her hair cream to save the day. After years of trading laundry for hair treatments Sarah tries to sell Addie’s hair cream. Addie turns her down without a second thought. Sarah barrows some tins of hair cream to show Addie how well she could do. When she tells Addie, she demoralizes Sarah. Saying she looks like she “Just stepped off the plantation.”
Knowing her potential, Sarah starts creating her own hair cream. She quickly stars to succeedand convinces her new husband to move to Indianapolis and start a salon in their home.
After much leg work, handing out flyers and showing the African American community that helping each other look good makes them all look good, she starts to thrive again. Soon having more customers than she can handle, Sarah looks to corporatize and expand.
In comes Addie Munroe again. She just moved to Indianapolis to open a standalone salon and threatens everything Sarah has worked for. Sarah, fearful of losing her clients, starts a buy one gets one deal on her cream.
An unfortunate explosion during the production process burns Sarah’s salon and creates a huge setback. Addie quickly swoops in, while flames are still engulfing the house, to try and steal Sarah’s clients.
The episode ends with Sarah confronting Addie to let her know that she will come back even stronger.
Throughout the episode, the events are compared to the 1910 heavyweight boxing match between Black Jack Johnson and Jim the Great White Hope Jeffries. Where Johnson beats Jeffries and causes much outrage in the white community.
Every time Sarah is hit with a Jab she comes back with a strong upper cut or right hook. Showing her determination and perseverance.
I can only wonder what knockout blow she’ll use in the next episode to achieve her dream and counter the obstacles.