Project Description

Wendy Calhoun on Madam C.J. Walker

Madam C.J. Walker was born into slavery as Sarah Breedlove, but became the first self-made female millionaire in the US, creating a beauty empire that helped African-American women celebrate their natural beauty. Using her influence to push for anti-lynching laws before the Civil Rights Movement, she also became a model entrepreneur. Listen to writer Wendy Calhoun tell Madam C.J.’s story.


Director: Farrel Levy
DP: Sevdije Kastrati
Sound: Sara Glaser
Producer: Courtney Graham
Co-Producer: Jill Klein
Editor: Liz Saltzman
Mix: Daniel Raphael
PA: Brandy Barber
PA: Cat Oriel

More About…

Wendy Calhoun


Wendy Calhoun is a writer and executive producer with an overall deal at Warner Bros. Television Studios. Most recently, she served as Consulting Producer for ABC’s STATION 19. She has developed new series pilots with Netflix, FX, 20th TV Studios, and ABC Signature. Her past credits include Co-Executive Producing and writing the historic first season of Fox’s megahit series EMPIRE. In addition, she’s written and produced for ABC’S NASHVILLE, FX’s JUSTIFIED, ABC’s REVENGE, and NBC’s LIFE. Calhoun wrote and directed the virtual reality short, LEFT BEHIND, sponsored by Google, and honored as “Best in VR” at Digital Hollywood. She served as the Narrative Consultant for Electronic Arts’ BATTLEFIELD HARDLINE video game. Calhoun received a 2010 Peabody Award and WGA Best New Series Nomination for JUSTIFIED. She received her second WGA Best New Series Nomination in 2012 for NASHVILLE. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Calhoun studied film and television at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Madam C.J. Walker


Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, created specialized hair products for African-American hair. Also a civil rights activist, in 1917, Madam C.J. Walker was part of a delegation that traveled to the White House to petition President Woodrow Wilson to make lynching a federal crime.

Madam CJ Walker headshot by Scurlock Studio from Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History. Before and after photo of Madam Walker from Madam Walker Family Archives/A’Lelia Bundles.