Tag Archives: entertainment

[Series] Strong Female Leads to Follow on Streaming Giants: Self Made, Inspired by the Life of Madam C. J. Walker

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IMBD Score: 7.6

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

Self Made (2020) is a limited web series that recently premiered on Netflix in March 2020. It is made of 4 episodes that overpass the life of Madam C.J. Walker. The premise of the series is very straight forward: search of identity. Before she is Madam Walker, our protagonist is an abandoned widow who washes laundry to keep the stove running in the house. The hardships of life return her… hair loss. Shortly after, a mulatto saleswoman shows her a product that makes her hair grow. It works magic because then Madam “C.J. Walker” has a boost of self-confidence and she meets her second husband (C.J. Walker) that gives her the iconic name. The rest of the story illustrates her struggle to start her own hair business and exist with this new independent identity between the 1880s and 1890s. Spoiler alert—Madam becomes America’s first Black, self made female millionaire; she also has had a mansion next to John D. Rockefeller’s! (Thank you OprahMag.)

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While a limited web series makes an extraordinary story like Madam Walker’s accessible globally, there are surely stylistic comments to be made. Self Made aims to be a genre binding series between a historical drama, and documentary series. However, the combination is not smooth, and it makes awkward storytelling at times. The audience wants to feel for the characters and the series does not let such a connection happen. This may also be due to the great impression of x (as Madam C.J. Walker), as the character increasingly distances herself as the story progresses. I would have preferred to observe the darker side of it all from episode 3 and onwards; Instead, episodes 3-4 show the audience truly begins to see Madam shine. The storytelling is so focused on the greatness of her success (as Madam also was at the time), that the audience cannot take a step back and feel for her.

While there is more than one production company involved, the show definitely carries the heaviness of Warner Bros Television most. If you watch a number of WB films, you’ll know what I mean. The set décor and gloomy cinematography beg to differ but sadly gives a fictional Harry Potter World vibe upon the opening of episode 1.

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Self Made has many contemporary details—from the soundtrack (great selection), to inner circle struggles (as illustrated between the Madam and the mulatto saleswoman Addie), as well as a topic I want to focus on specifically, the queer identity in the late 1800s. Madam C.J. Walker’s daughter, A’Lelia Walker,  was shown to be queer in the series. While diversity in TV is happening more today, as it should be, I have a hard time believing A’Lelia’s portrayal to be true. According to Harlem renaissance dancer Mabel Hampton, “There was men and women, women and women, and men and men, and everyone did whatever they wanted to do” when A’Lelia took over her mother’s business in Harlem. In the series, A’lelia’s coming out is so smooth that it seems to undermine her experience not to take the attention away from the line of action that the show requires. However, I must note that Tiffany Haddish (A’lelia) steals the show in the last two episodes, and she makes a great figure alongside the ever strong Octavia Spencer (Madam C.J. Walker).

Self Made is a mini informative series that has many problems to undermines the true power of its story. It is inspiring yet disappointing as it fails to meet expectations.

The Ultimate COVID-19 Resource List (FREE)

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Credits: DanarArt on DevianArt.com

Dear habitants of earth,

Unless you are a space cowboy, you should be aware of the latest pandemic that we are all affected by equally—Well, that is a first. I hope you are all staying safe from the COVID-19 virus by staying in and battling with creeping diabetes at the same time. I know, I am. Kudos to those who work out and avoid baked goods at home; please do share your secret. I was home for a total of 7 days, self-quarantining (and, I mean who is counting?).

Here is how it went:

Day 1 – Workout done, cooking done, cleaning done, reading done

Day 2 – workout nada, cooking nada, cleaning nada, reading yes, watching tv YES, laying down like a sloth YES.

Rest of the week – same as before. I am sure I was more productive during the occasional times that I felt depressed in university.

While I can talk about the hardships that people of the earth suffer daily and I think we never hear enough of that, I will try to lure the left side of your brain today. If you are home today, you are an awesome individual who cares about the people around you; I want to thank you, friend. I also want to help you with unleashing your creative energy during this unusual time (for some of us). I will try my best to write a couple articles for the next while to keep us, the privileged folk sane.

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Credits: MET

The internet has been a great place this week with overflowing resources. It is awesome to access free and quality classes, workshops, articles, and even music. Without further ado, here is the Ultimate COVID- 19 FREE Resource List to help you take advantage of the free stuff on the internet.

  1. Take 500 free IVY LEAGUE courses – There are 500 courses offered by the Ivy League universities, which you can take FOR FREE. Some of these universities include Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, and Cornell. Classes range from Art History, and Religious Studies, to Economics and Science. So, there are a lot of options. Click here to see the full list of courses.
  2. Read 300,000+ Free eBooks by NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARYDownload NYPL’s free reader application simplyE here. The system is like any other e-Library system. You borrow the e-book, and when your time is up the next person gets the book. Do not fret, you can always put the book on hold. But hurry, because some of the popular titles like Game of Thrones and Harry Potter are already taken! (PS. Do check whether this service is available in your region.)
  3. Reach Free Content on JSTOR – If you are a university student, you have already been to JSTOR many times. Well, the academic resource site now offers 6,000 e-books and over 150 journals for free to fulfill your research needs. Click here to visit JSTOR.
  4. Watch Nightly Opera Stream at the Metropolitan Opera “MET”– You can now stream MET shows at the comfort of your home. As the official statement writes, “During this extraordinary and difficult time, the Met hopes to brighten the lives of our audience members even while our stage is dark. Every day a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series is being released for free, on-demand streaming, with each performance available for a period of 23 hours, beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT.” Click here to stream.
  5. Stream Live Channels on Pluto TV— Stream Channels on Pluto TV – The service offers 250+ live channels free to stream for the US (including Puerto Rico), the UK, Germany, and Austria. You can download the app or simply stream online.
  6. Stream Sling TV (Available in the US) – Sling TV made a selection of its content free to the US viewers, which includes ABC News Live, family-friendly movies and series, and other lifestyle programs. Click here to view Sling TV.
  7. Receive News from FAIR.org—I was tipped by a mentor of mine about this service a while ago. While there is various news floating about the coronavirus, I’d suggest subscribing to a reliable news source like FAIR “National Media Watch Group” to get your facts right. Click here to read FAIR. Click here to subscribe to their newsletter.
  8. @SaveWithStories AKA Celebs Read for Kids – All of our favorite celebrities decided it was a good idea to read for kids who are likely bored every 5 minutes at home. So, here’s a little something to entertain the little ones. Start listening the stories OR read about the premise.
  9. Consult Youtube for Your Fitness and Health Needs – There are a million fitness influencers out there who already started at-home fitness challenges on Youtube. If bodyweight workouts are not your thing, try searching ‘Walk at home’ or ‘dance cardio workout’ for other options. I know it is hard to get up from your seats (!) but it is recommended to literally move for 20 minutes every day. I believe in you; you can do this.
  10. Listen to NEW MUSIC – To name my favorites, The Weeknd and Childish Gambino recently released new albums—And, you can listen to them FOR FREE. I am sure there are other awesome artists out there who have made their music available for all.
  11. Take care of yourself, it is FREE – Yes, while we can entertain and educate ourselves, we almost always forget about self-care. Make a facemask and watch Brené Brown (God, I love her!), practice meditation, talk to your flowers, wash your hands, and do whatever fills your cup and love yourself. After all, you finally have time for yourself!

BONUS: Pay attention to your elderly neighbors who may need assistance with getting their pills, groceries, books, etc. Make sure you do not contact them directly but call them or leave goods outside their doors, and do the best you can to help them in this difficult time.

I hope this list is helpful to some of you. Comment below if you can help me expand it. Stay home, stay safe and be kind, folks. Sending everyone patience and love today.