Unfriendly Competition: Sara Walker vs Addie Monroe
We could spend all day picking away at the layers of the new Netflix series Self-Made: Inspired by the Life of Madame C. J. Walker. And as long as “The Rona” is around we actually have plenty of time to do it. We could touch on sexism, feminism, infidelity, racism, sexuality, Washington vs DuBois, business and marriage … the list goes on and on and on and on.
BUT I had one burning question on my spirit ever since the final credits rolled and Netflix tried to push me to the next show …
Ya’ll? Did Madame C.J. Walker steal that woman’s formula?!!!!
From the looks of Facebook, I am not the only one who was ready to see Sara slap the mess out of Addie (oh and Sara is Madame C.J. Walker’s first name … yea honey … I didn’t know that either). Let me tell you, when Addie stood up in church and tried to woo the whole congregation into leaving Sara’s hair salon and becoming her new clients!! I was waiting on Sarah to stand up and yell “THE DEVIL IS A LIE!”
The concerns around colorism were as thick as a fresh box of relaxer. They wanted the audience to see the difficulties darker women of color faced, particularly in the beauty industry. And those difficulties were draped up and iced out as Addie Monroe. With every fair-skin, side eye glance and underhanded move from Addie, we became more and more sympathetic of Sara. We committed ourselves to seeing her thrive as an entrepreneur to spite Addie. The imagery of a boxing ring and the two women as opponents set the stage for the competitiveness between the two. Every time Sara encountered a road block and mushed the hell out of it to keep her business afloat, you could hear every black woman cheering in Sara's corner. Whether she took the mic from Booker T. Washington or threw her husband out the house, we were cheering. We wanted Sara to win and Addie to get hit with a Laila Ali style knock out.
But wait …
Let me step from under the dryer for a moment …
Did Sara steal Addie’s formula? Did we witness Sara’s success at the expense of Addie’s? I can’t be the only one wondering about this part of the series. Did Sara not add an extra drop of oil? Or take away an unnecessary step? Or did this woman take Addie’s WHOLE FREAKIN’ FORMULA? Which further makes me question …
If we did not have a compilation of shady moments from Sara, would their last scene together, after the funeral, still have the same sentiments? Think about it. If the only thing you knew about Addie, was that she helped Sara build her confidence after a horrible divorce and then she disappears only to reappear at the end of the movie to confront Sara. Who's corner would we stand in when Addie walks up to Sara accusing her of stealing her formula? Who's corner would we stand in when Sara admits to stealing it? What type of cuss word do you yell when you realize Sara became a millionaire from a stolen formula? OR because the series was set with Addie as the villain do we view stealing the formula as "HA! HA! That's what you get!!!" Does Addie’s treatment of Sara make things even? Or is the Walker Girl whole empire a fraud?
According to a blog post on Bustle.com (listed below), Addie (who’s real name was Addie Malone) was originally Sara’s mentor and someone she worked for. Yea, Sara actually sold products for Addie in real life. THE DRAMAAAAA!!!! Netflix added a little sugar and spice to keep us engaged. We get it. We’ve all indulged in enough reality t.v. to know … you need a storyline.
All of these questions can be used to open up a great dialogue. Some things to stir the pot and some to stimulate the mind. My main question is: what pits us (women) as competitors vs supporters?
Addie Monroe In 'Self Made' Is Based On Madam C.J. Walker's Real Life "Rival"