Britt Doughty: Designing Self Made: The Life Of Madam C.J. Walker

Production Designer Britt Doughty on designing the period drama mini-series, Self Made: Inspired By the Life of Madam C.J. Walker.

DGC Ontario Production Self Made Inspired By The Life of Madam C.J. Walker is now available to stream on Netflix. The 4 part mini-series is the story of Madam CJ Walker, the first self made female millionaire in America. We spoke with DGC Ontario Production Designer Britt Doughty on designing the period drama and working with Directors Kasi Lemmons, DeMane Davis and creator Nicole Jefferson Asher.

How would you describe the design of Self Made: Inspired by the life of Madam C.J. Walker? What was it like not only designing for the period but also adding elements of fantasy and magical realism into the show?

Designing Self Made was a production designers dream come true. Every set was a journey involving countless hours of historical research to recreate Madam CJ’s life. The challenge was blending a colourful whimsy throughout, in addition to staying true to the various time periods. Madam CJ was a dreamer, and I wanted to reflect that part of her personality from her early years living in the tenements of St Louis as a washer woman, to the end of her life when she lived in Lewaro & Dark Tower. Every set had to reflect the inspirational woman Madam CJ was.

What was your favourite aspect of designing the show?

A favourite aspect of designing this show was creating sets for her later years, Dark Tower specifically. Every square inch was custom made including the wallpaper designs, and most of the furniture. Madam’s office in Dark Tower goes down as one of my favourites to date.

Can you speak more on your creative collaboration with Directors Kasi Lemmons, DeMane Davis and creator Nicole Jefferson Asher?

Working with Kasi, DeMane and Nicole was a fantastic experience. Both Kasi and DeMane were so creative in their approach to the story, opening up numerous opportunities for me to push the visuals beyond being merely a historical piece. It was incredibly inspiring to work with such strong, creative and supportive women.

What’s next, can you tell us more about your upcoming production Sex/Life?

Currently I am designing Sex/Life, a contemporary female-focused story that profiles when life and libido collide. Our main character is a suburban mother of two who goes in search of that sexy, single girl in the city she used to be ten years ago. The scripts have inspired me to design some equally enviable surroundings!

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