Self Made episode 4, “A Credit to the Race” is a great end to an incredible true story as we learn of the self-made entrepreneur’s big decision on the business.
This recap of Netflix Series Self Made episode 4, “A Credit to the Race” contains significant spoilers.
- Read the Limited Series review.
- Read the recap of the previous episode (3)
- 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.
Self Made episode 4, “A Credit to the Race” opens up with an announcement in the media that Sarah is the first female self-made millionaire in America.
We are witnessing a historic tale here folks.
It’s 1918, in The Dark Tower. Sarah is celebrating the fact she’s officially moved to New York. But she takes a strange turn and faints and her doctor advises that she takes a vegetarian diet and a sabbatical for a year — her kidneys are failing and she does not have long to live. Ransom and Lelia ask Sarah what the doctor said and she makes out like it was nothing. Sarah has a plan to do a big conference with all her workforce to make some announcements — she wants more than a small army.
Sarah highlights the traits of a proper workaholic.
Sarah then gets angry at Lelia’s salon, thinking everyone is playing around but they are not, they are just entertaining an important client. Sarah tells Lelia she wants to go full speed ahead but Lelia wants her to calm down and look after her health. Sarah makes a comment that Lelia needs to get a husband and have babies.
Sarah wants to be a grandparent.
CJ confronts Sarah and demands that she signs the divorce papers. Sarah tells CJ that she is fuming that Dora is using the Madam CJ Walker name. Afterward, Dora rings CJ and wonders why Sarah will not sign the divorce papers — she does not want to work for Addie anymore, she wants to be the star.
CJ and Dora are the desperate onlookers looking for a piece of the pie.
Lelia provides Sarah with an excellent business opportunity with Saunders Drugs Stores and Sarah is over the moon. Sarah keeps getting odd flashbacks to when she was a child. She asks Ransom if she can do the convention on her own, but Ransom advises against it. Things get worse for Sarah as Addie rings her up and accuses her of stealing her hair formula — Addie says Sarah is finished. Ransom vows to handle it.
At the business meeting with Saunders Drug Stores, Leila puts on a little show for the investors. Sarah intervenes and starts to present. Saunders Drugs Stores wants to do business with Sarah — she’s officially a millionaire.
But with Addie putting a cloud over proceedings, Sarah heads to CJ’s hotel room. She tells CJ that Addie knows she stole the formula and accuses CJ of giving away the secret — he admits to giving it away, stating he made a mistake and that Sarah broke him. CJ says he loves Sarah and then they have sex. In the middle of the night, Sarah leaves the hotel room stating she needs to think about things.
Heading into a restaurant, Sarah sees Lelia and Esther in an intimate moment and asks Lelia to leave the restaurant. Sarah says she wants an heir and admits to Lelia that she’s dying and does not have a lot of time. She says she needs Lelia to run the business and have a family — “If you don’t have any children, what’s it all for?”. Sarah asks Lelia to promise to settle down and she does.
At the halfway point of Self Made episode 4, “A Credit to the Race”, there’s a tragedy that is indicative of the times; Ransom tells Sarah that some white boys bumped into his son while getting ice cream and Sweetness said something to them. The fathers of the white children lynched and killed Sweetness. Sweetness died fighting for his son and it’s a tragic, upsetting scene as Ransom breaks into tears.
They head back to Indianapolis for the funeral in “A Credit to the Race”. CJ turns up but with Dora and this confirms Sarah and CJ are not going to rekindle. After the funeral, Addie approaches Sarah about the charges against Sarah with her lawyers. Addie says she’s tired of being taken advantage of. Sarah reiterates passionately that she begged Addie to work with her but she refused — “We could have been a great team”. Sarah asks Addie to stop the rift between them immediately.
Sarah signs the divorce papers and asks Ransom to deliver it — Ransom also knows about Sarah’s health and says she shouldn’t do the conference: “I can’t afford to lose you too”.
The conference starts and workers are protesting about the deal with Saunders Drugs Stores — they think selling in stores will mean their jobs are affected. Sarah has a big decision to make.
But then there’s an odd scene where Sarah randomly meets Mr. Rockefeller while he’s out golfing — Sarah talks about her predicament with her workers. Rockefeller says Sarah did not get where she is today by letting people push her around. I felt this scene was weirdly wedged in to help support her decision-making later, but it didn’t work.
Back in the conference and Sarah tells Lelia that she looks unhappy on the dates with the men she has organized and gives her permission to live life the way she wants. Sarah says the point of this conference is to give women choices and that she’s proud of her. This was a sweet, touching moment. Lelia reveals she has a heir and wants to continue the legacy — she looks at Fairy Mae and states she’s already a part of the family. There’s a hint here that Fairy Mae will be adopted — it’s confirmed in the credits that she was.
As we near the end, Sarah gives a speech to her protestors. She says all she ever wanted is to help “colored women”. Sarah pulls out of the Saunders Drugstore deal because she has an army of powerful women.
Self Made episode 4, “A Credit to the Race” ends with Sarah narrating about female enterprise and making dreams come true. There’s a flashback to when her parents showed her fireworks as a young girl. The last scenes are employees of Sarah’s company highlighting what they achieved by working for her and then there’s a touching credits montage of what happened to the people in real life.
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Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.