Fresh from practically defeating the Indiana Pacers by himself in the playoffs, Lebron James will ease some of the pain by helping pay tribute to one of Indianapolis’ most renowned women.
The star forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers has been attached as an executive producer, along with Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer, on a future Netflix series focusing on Madam C. J. Walker, the namesake for the Madam Walker Theatre Center near IUPUI and the nation’s first African-American female self-made millionaire. James and Spencer are connected through the William Morris talent agency.
“What I can say is that the writing process is tentatively scheduled to start during the summer,” said Walker’s great-great-granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles via telephone from Washington, D.C. “Once the writers are assembled, they’ll map out the arc of the story. I’m a consultant on the series. If all goes well and the planets align properly, I will be involved periodically while they are developing the storyline.”
The series is based on Bundles’ best-selling 2001 book, “On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker,” which follows Walker’s life from a Southern cotton fields worker to a poor washer-woman in St. Louis to the employer of thousands of African-American women in her own hair care and cosmetics firm, Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company, based in downtown Indianapolis. The book was optioned by Zero Gravity Management in 2016.
Bundles is finishing up another book, “The Joy Goddess of Harlem: A’Lelia Walker and the Harlem Renaissance,” based on her great-grandmother and namesake, who was the daughter of Madam Walker. A’Lelia Walker was a major cultural influencer in New York while representing the family business in the Big Apple.
As guest speaker at IUPUI’s commencement on May 12 at Lucas Oil Stadium, Bundles will talk about those women and her own career as a former ABC and NBC news producer and journalist. Several thousand students and their families will be in attendance.
A North Central High School graduate raised in Indianapolis on Grandview Drive, Bundles received degrees from Harvard College and Columbia University before settling in Washington, D.C. Her father, S. Henry Bundles, was president of the Center for Leadership Development in Indianapolis and now lives in Florida. Her late mother, A’Lelia Mae Perry Bundles, was vice president of the Walker Company while being involved in Indianapolis politics.