9:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Tiffany Haddish, Carmen Ejogo, Blair Underwood Join Netflix's 'Madam CJ Walker'
Netflix's Madam CJ Walker limited series is assembling its impressive cast.
Tiffany Haddish, Carmen Ejogo, Blair Underwood, Garrett Morris and Kevin Carroll have joined Octavia Spencer in the four-part drama.
The series tells the story of black hair-care pioneer and mogul Madam CJ Walker and how she overcame hostile turn-of-the-century America, epic rivalries, tumultuous marriages and family challenges to become America’s first black, self-made female millionaire.
Spencer exec produces the series and stars as Sarah Breedlove, aka Madam CJ Walker. The series is inspired by the book On Her Own Ground, by A'Lelia Bundles, Walker's great-great-granddaughter. LeBron James' Spring Hill Entertainment and Zero Gravity exec produce the series from Warner Bros. TV.
Haddish — whose Netflix animated comedy Tuca & Bertie was canceled last month — will play Lelia, the daughter of Breedlove and her late first husband. Raised by her single, hard-working mother, she is eager to be independent. After falling in love and marrying the feckless John Robinson, she frequently finds herself coming to her husband's defenses.
Ejogo (True Detective, Selma) will portray Addie, a hairstylist and former friend of Sarah's. She is a savvy businesswoman who parlays her good looks and social standing into a profitable African American hair-care business. Fiercely competitive, when she quickly dismisses Sarah’s ambitions to be one of her sales women, charting a course to become Sarah’s nemesis and rival.
Underwood (Netflix's When They See Us) will take on the role of Chares James Walker, Sarah's husband. He's supportive and encouraging of his wife's hair product business, which he helps her run. CJ has a way of calming Sarah down and soothing her worries, but he grows concerned about her increasing stress over the ups and downs of her business.
Morris (2 Broke Girls) is set as Cleophus, CJ's father, and a former slave who comes to live with CJ and Sarah. He gets along well with Sarah and helps in her hair product business.
Carroll (Snowfall, The Leftovers) rounds out the cast as Ransom, a Pullman porter whose many degrees include law and patents from Columbia University. When he agrees to help Sarah with her hair product patents and becomes the company lawyer, he does his best to pull her back from what he feels is a risky expansion and efforts.
Madam CJ Walker will debut on Netflix in 2020. Janine Sherman Barrios (Claws) and Elle Johnson (Bosch) are set as showrunners, writers and exec producers. Kasi Lemmons will direct the pilot and exec produce alongside Spencer, Christine Holder, Mark Holder, James, Maverick Carter and Jamal Henderson. Nicole Jefferson Asher created the series and will also serve as a writer.
The casting marks the latest project for the busy Haddish, who also hosts ABC's upcoming series Kids Say the Darndest Things and stars opposite Tracy Morgan on TBS' The Last OG. She's repped by UTA, Artists First and Ziffren Brittenham.
Ejogo, repped by WME and Untitled, is fresh off a critically praised run on HBO anthology True Detective and counts Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwalt among her credits.
Underwood, who is with ICM Partners, Thruline Entertainment and Felker Toczek, counts Netflix's Dear White People and Quantico among his credits.
Morris, an SNL legend, recently recurred on This Is Us and counts The Jamie Foxx Show among his credits. He is with Singular Talent and Priluck Co.
Carroll, who recently joined AMC's The Walking Dead, has had roles on FX's Snowfall, ABC's Sacred Lies and The Leftovers. He's with Innovative, Susanna Griffith and Hirsch Wallerstein.