Madam C.J. Walker’s business rival Addie Munroe on Self Made is based on Annie Malone in real life. In the series, Monroe is played by Carmen Ejogo. But Malone in real life is very different from the Netflix version we see on the series.
Netflix Changed A Lot in Creating Addie Munroe
In real life, Annie Malone’s hard work and success were inspirations to Madam C.J. Walker, NBC reported. So although Addie was based on Annie, a lot of changes were made for the Netflix series.
Malone was born in 1869 in Metropolis, Illinois as Annie Minerva Turnbo. Her parents were Robert and Isabella Turnbo and they had 11 children including Annie. She was raised by an older sister because her parents died when she was young (much like what happened to Madam C.J. Walker.)
Annie Malone Was a Chemist Who Created a New Method of Straightening Hair
Growing up, Malone didn’t have much formal education and went to night school when she was an adult, NBC News reported. She was a chemist and an entrepreneur, the State Historical Society of Missouri noted, and she developed a hair product that could straighten African American women’s hair, but it didn’t damage their hair. At the time, it was common to use bacon grease, oils, or butter as hair straighteners. But these hurt the scalp. Malone created her own formula called Wonderful Hair Grower, Vox reported. She had to sell her products door-to-door and it worked.
In fact, it was Malone’s business that partially inspired Walker. Walker had scalp psoriasis and the treatments in her time actually made her condition worse. Malone conducted her own science experiments and learned that alcohol could irritate the scalp and hygiene was important. It was her products that helped Walker and inspired her, NBC News reported.
She Was a Millionaire By the End of World War I
Annie Malone was incredibly talented and by the end of World War I, she was the first black woman to be a millionaire, Vox reported. She was married to Aaron E. Malone in 1914, a St. Louis principal. In 1927, after she was a big success, Aaron filed for divorce and sought half of her business. They settled on $200,000, the State Historical Society of Missouri reported.
In 1918, Malone founded Poro College, a cosmetology school for black women. The college also hosted civic functions and housed her growing business. But by 1929, the stock market crash had hurt her business and also led to a number of lawsuits. She still ran 32 branches of her cosmetology school, continued her business, and supported charities. She died in 1957.
According to Vox, Malone’s work still continues through Annie Malone Children and Family Services. (Right now, they could use donations during the coronavirus outbreak.) The center started in 1888 and seeks to meet social and educational needs of children and at-risk families in St. Louis. Malone was the President of the Board of the Directors from 1919 to 1943. The home was renamed in her honor in 1946.
St. Louis hosts an Annie Malone parade every year, which is scheduled to take place in May.
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