Growing up, actor Octavia Spencer remembers being inspired by the story of Madam C.J. Walker, one of America's first black, female, self-made millionaires. Born on a plantation in 1867, Walker eked out a living washing clothes for white families before building an empire selling hair care and makeup products to women of color.
Dennis McFarland's severe stage fright led him to give up a career as a concert pianist. He chose writing instead, in part because it didn't involve performing in front of an audience. His first novel, about a divorcé whose brother commits suicide, is called The Music Room.