In 2018, world-renowned athlete LeBron James and Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer teamed up to produce a visual story on Madam C.J. Walker. Under James and his longtime business partner Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Entertainment company, the team will tell Walker’s story of becoming a million dollar beauty industry maven in a society that demeaned and targeted black people.
While Walker’s fight to prominence will be displayed onscreen, executive producer Spencer, who will step into Walker’s shoes in the near future, discussed her personal fight for equality in her career. In an interview with The Undefeated, the Hidden Figures star said James and Carter stepped in to make sure that her worth was respected for this project.
“When we were in negotiations they had to…step up for me. He and Maverick…that type of leadership has been important, and I’m thrilled about it,” Spencer revealed. “When I asked for certain things, they had to go and say, ‘She deserves these things!’ It’s sad that we have to do that, but they did and that’s what I’m working with: people who have no problem standing up.”
In the summer of 2018, Spencer’s The Help co-star Jessica Chastain shared how she also helped to advocate for equal pay for Spencer. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Chastain said she was taken aback to learn of Spencer’s wage as compared to her’s or other white women in the industry.
“I knew women of color got paid less than Caucasian actresses,” Chastain said. “What I didn’t know is someone of Octavia’s level, who had an Oscar and two Oscar nominations, how much less she would be getting paid. When she told me what she was making, that’s what really made me go, ‘Hold up, that doesn’t compute in my brain.'”
The Madam C.J. Walker program will premiere on Netflix.