Every ethnic group has a mythology... Until 'Roots'... there was nothing in the popular culture to refute the paragraph in elementary school history class that said, 'Slaves picked the cotton, were happy and life wasn't so bad.'
You know the AME Church has a history of empowering black people and having an international outlook. So it was the women of the church who began to give Sarah Breedlove an image of herself as something other than an illiterate washerwoman, and she wanted to make her life better, and her daughter's life better.
I began to discover that, in addition to her stunning achievements, there were flaws as there would be in any person's life. I wanted to tell Madam's story in an honest, frank way.
There is a core of people who know and love Madam C.J. Walker, but there's a much larger audience who don't really know about her. I think 'Self Made' will give people a window into her life.
One of the key things for me about Madame Walker's life is that she really does represent this first generation out of slavery when black people were reinventing themselves, and as a woman who was the first child in her family born free, she was trying to figure out a way, and she moved from Delta, Louisiana.
For all my life, I've been trying to tell Madam's story and really it's a labor of love just to make sure people know about her and the empowerment she gave to other women.
I hope that people will be inspired by Madam Walker's story. I hope that they will see her as a complex human being, and that they will want to dig more deeply, that they will want to know the details of her life.
I'd seen how 'Green Book' had been a box-office hit, but left pianist Don Shirley's family feeling betrayed because his life and relationships had been distorted.
She used her wealth and philanthropy to contribute to Black schools and colleges, she gave the largest gift the NAACP had ever received to it's anti-lynching fund... Madam Walker's life was one of transformation and re-invention.
The measure of a man's life is how he copes with the terrible wall of fear.