Self Made episode 2, “Bootstraps” is highly thematic and drama-filled regarding the gender and race divide in the early 20th century.
This recap of Netflix Series Self Made episode 2, “Bootstraps” contains significant spoilers.
- Read the Limited Series review.
- Read the recap of Episode 3.
- Read the recap of the previous episode (1)
- Access the archive of all the episode recaps.
Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker is a Netflix limited series based on the true story of African American entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker who built a haircare empire that made her America’s first female self-made millionaire.
So Sarah wants to open up her factory for hair products in Self Made episode 2, “Bootstraps”. She gives a tour of her plan and presents to a group of black businessmen in the community. CJ is clearly embarrassed that he is not in charge in front of his male peers. Unfortunately, Sarah requires business endorsements in order for the men to invest, so they are not eager to invest.
Episode 2, “Bootstraps” is indicative of a “man’s world”. Sarah needs support from Booker T. Washington who is closely connected with the black community and is part of the White House. Sarah meets Nettie and learns the opportunity to meet Booker’s wife — she needs a plan B to raise money
But before she takes that opportunity, she goes to talk to Theodore, hailed as the “richest colored man in town”. She asks Theodore what will it take to get him on board. She returns home and cries to her father — Theodore tried to rape her. Her father tells Sarah not to tell CJ because “no good will come from it”.
CJ manages to get three tickets to Booker’s speech for black businesses in the community. He didn’t plan to take Sarah because women do not attend. CJ wants to speak on Sarah’s behalf, but she refutes that idea. Meanwhile, a clumsy John tells Addie that she is trying to get an endorsement from Booker T. Washington. Addie tries to hire John as a spy.
CJ and Sarah attend Booker T. Washington’s speech in “Bootstraps”. Shockingly, Addie Munroe is introduced on to the stage and Sarah is fuming. Sarah is then introduced to Margaret Washington, Booker’s wife. She asks if her husband can provide an endorsement. Margaret declines. Sarah gets more desperate and asks her husband to follow Booker into the bathroom.
Addie then approaches Sarah and starts mocking her and Sarah mocks her back — this hair product war is intensifying. CJ leaves the bathroom and claims he has managed to get Booker T. Washington around for dinner later.
So in a group effort, they prepare a big dinner party for him. Ransom kindly invests in Sarah’s business as he wants to be the first to do so. Booker T. Washington is late; CJ tells Sarah that Booker was intimidated in the bathroom. Ransom gets to the bottom of it and learns that Booker had no intention of coming over and investing. As Sarah mopes, CJ goes out drinking with another woman and they get close. Sarah looks at herself in the mirror and realizes she needs to get her act together.
The next day, Sarah joins Margaret Washington at a Women’s Convention and starts treating her hair. Sarah asks Margaret if she can put in a good word with her husband. Margaret says it’s a man’s world and we choose to be here. Sarah enters into a speech about fearing men and silence but she wants to tell her story and walks out of the convention.
Sarah then marches into the black’s business conference. She walks on to the stage and asks Mr. Washington to endorse her factory. She then turns to the audience and talks of jobs and opportunities; how wives can be given opportunities to help their families. Addie is the first to clap, then the rest of the audience claps — this was a brilliant scene.
Mr. Washington pulls Sarah aside in the corridor and claims her speech was rude and an outburst. He claims black people cannot afford to be in the cosmetics industry and that the “negro man” needs to succeed first before walking off.
Tensions are now heightening in Sarah and CJ’s marriage as he learns that Sarah has remortgaged the house so they can invest in the factory. Her good luck finally arrives, however, as Mrs. Washington comes over with loads of investments from a group of women — Sarah invites them all in.
This scene demonstrates that Sarah managed to inspire a group of women to remove themselves from their shackles and make something of themselves.
Self Made episode 2, “Bootstraps” ends with John talking to Addie again; she wants to know why customers prefer Sarah’s product over hers. Ransom sees that CJ is having an affair.
- Lelia is told by one of the female employees Esther that her face is exquisite and she’d love to take photos of her. They briefly touch hands.
- Leila sings at the party. The song is about kissing a woman. John sees the woman Esther looking at her. Later Esther takes a photo of Leila.
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Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.