To finish up my Women's History month posts is a list of 10 women in the industry that I admire. There are so many amazing women to look up to in the industry today, but these are the women that have inspired me the most, and hopefully will inspire you as well!
1. Emma Watson (Actress)
If you know me, then you know I am a huge Harry Potter fan, but Emma Watson is not on this list because she stars in a popular film franchise. The first Harry Potter film was released when I was about eight years old, right about the time when I believe we are truly starting to understand media, pop culture, and celebrity. Daniel Radcliffe was on of my first celebrity crushes, but Emma Watson was my first celebrity role model. And I am so thankful that she was. I remember watching interviews with her when I was little where she talked about how she loved playing Hermione because of how intelligent and resourceful she was, which validated my love of learning and reading. She was also never negatively portrayed in the media as tends to happen to many young celebrities growing up in front of the camera. She was always professional, and well spoken, even at a young age. When Emma finished the Harry Potter films, she decided that she wanted to pause her acting career to attend college. And she not only did it, but she attended and graduated from Brown no less, with a degree in English literature.
From there, she went on to begin the He for She campaign which she discusses in her speech to the U.N. above. I can still remember the first time I watched this speech. I was a senior in college and completely wrapped up in my own bubble of senior projects. Up until this point, I had not really given much thought to gender equality, and like Emma states in her speech, assumed feminists were just a bunch of angry women who hated men. It wasn't until I saw this speech, and heard her explanation of what gender equality really stood for, that I began to really consider how both women and men are still being stuck in certain roles, and that this is something we should want to change. It even inspired me to make my senior thesis about the women in television who have made an impact in the industry, which is still the project I am most proud of. I will forever be grateful that I had Emma to look up to as a young girl, and still even now, as she is someone that I know is using her privilege to make a difference in the world.
2. Nina Dobrev (Actress)
Okay, so it may be starting to look like I'm choosing women based on my favorite TV shows and movies. But let's be honest, half the reason I love Harry Potter and The Vampire Diaries is because of the strong female roles they bring to the table. And that wouldn't be possible without strong and powerful actresses behind them. I began watching The Vampire Diaries in high school, and it came on the scene around the time that social media was becoming a popular way for actors and actresses to be able to interact with their fans. Since I loved the show so much, I obviously began to follow its cast on these platforms and was so grateful to see that they were all so down to earth and relatable. But the one I connected to the most was Nina. Even now, almost ten years after starting The Vampire Diaries, Nina is still just as real, and humble as ever. I initially began following her Instagram account to learn more about the show, and because I was inspired by all of the beautiful places she traveled to when she wasn't shooting. But now that she is no longer part of the Mystic Falls world, I think I may love following her even more because now I love seeing that she is posting about causes she is passionate for, and how her career is advancing.
If you don't know much about her, Nina began acting when she was in high school, paying for her own acting classes, and slowly working her way up to her now the well-known role of Elena Gilbert. To hear more about her story, watch the interview above where she talks about the struggles she had to overcome to get to where she is today, and how she truly appreciates everything she has been offered in life. This interview made me love and respect her even more than I already do, and hopefully, it will inspire you as much as it inspired me.
3. Julie Plec (TV Showrunner and Writer)
Some of you may have never heard of Julie Plec. She is not a famous actress or comedian like most of the women on this list. Instead, she holds another important role in the film world, being a female showrunner and writer. And just like how I said above that we couldn't have strong female characters without amazing actresses behind them, we also could not have them without awesome female writers to bring them to life. Julie is one of those women. She began working in the industry by being an assistant for none other than Wes Craven, and then worked her way up on numerous television writing staffs before co-creating and running both The Vampire Diaries and its spin-off The Originals. When I started getting really into television and movies in college and wanting to learn more about how they work and are run, I began really paying attention to the writers and directors that brought my favorite stories to life. When I discovered Julie through The Vampire Diaries, I was instantly in awe of her, and all the things she had accomplished so far in her life. I highly encourage you to watch the interview with her above, as her story is so interesting and inspiring to hear, and will give you a look into what it is like for women behind the camera who are creating such great female roles.
4. Ellen DeGeneres (Talk Show Host, Actress, Comedian)
Ellen is an amazing woman for so many reasons and has done so much throughout her career to help countless people. While yes it is true that she hosts many celebrities on her show, and is well known for her funny pranks, I think the video above speaks for me as to how much she also wants to shine a light on the everyday people who make a difference. When Ellen came out in 1997, both publicly in Time Magazine, and also as her fictional character in her hit TV sitcom, there is no doubt it helped pave the way for how the LGBT community is portrayed in the media today. She fought for her character to have a coming out story on television at a time when it was not so common, and she still uses her influence to help the community today. She is also just such a warm, lovable, and powerful woman, I think it would be hard to find someone who does not like and admire her. Ellen is truly a role model for so many, and I hope her show stays on the air for many years to come.
5. Tina Fey & Amy Poehler (Actresses, Comedians, TV and Movie Writers)
I know this is kind of cheating to have Amy and Tina count as one person, but hey, they are usually talked about together, and also, I had eleven women I wanted to feature on this list, and only ten spots, so oh well! I have read both Amy and Tina's books (which I highly recommend by the way), and I am just so inspired by their stories. For two women who started out doing comedy sketches in clubs in Chicago, it is amazing to see how far they have come. Tina Fey actually grew up in a town not too far from where I grew up, and it was always so inspiring to me to know that such a big name in the industry came from a place so similar to me. I think it is safe to say that they both have helped pave the way for female comedians to be taken more seriously in the industry. They are both some of the most hilarious comedians I have seen, and have both gone on to star in and write amazing television shows and movies. And if that isn't enough, you can tell from the speeches I featured above that they are also just caring, and giving people, that are able to use their fame to put so much good into the world.
6. Viola Davis (Actress)
I did not discover my love for Viola Davis until I started watching How to Get Away with Murder, but oh my gosh is she an amazing woman and actress. Not only has she played the powerhouse lawyer Annalise Keating, but also some breakthrough roles in films such as The Help and Fences. She is also a part of a small group of people in the industry close to becoming an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award winner), as she only needs a Grammy to earn this title. She has helped create some powerful women characters, and more importantly, powerful women of color. While she may not be crazy and manipulative like her HTGAWM character, there is no denying that she is just as powerful, strong, and intelligent, which I'm sure helps make it easy to bring Annalise to the screen. To learn more about how Viola got to where she is today, and who in the industry has inspired her, watch the interview above, I assure you, it will only make you love her more (if that is possible).
7. Sophia Bush (Actress)
Sophia Bush started out her career being known for bringing the party girl Brooke Davis to life on One Tree Hill. But through her influence and pushing, Sophia managed to help Brooke become one of the best role models for women on a teen show. She then went on to take on another role we don't often get to see on TV, a woman police officer on Chicago PD. And she doesn't just stop her inspiration with her TV roles. Sophia is very vocal about issues and causes that are important to her and is one of the best examples of an actress who uses her voice to effect change. It is hard to scroll through her Instagram feed without finding an inspiring or informational post, and I love following her for this reason. And even if you don't agree with all of the stands she makes, she is always sure to post her opinions in a respectful way and does not allow others to get her down. You can see what I mean by watching the interview above, where she talks about empowering women in television.
8. Shonda Rhimes (TV Showrunner and Writer)
Shonda Rhimes is probably a more familiar showrunner name than Julie Plec, as she has a whole brand around her and her programming. She is such a powerhouse in the industry right now, that she has her own Thursday night line-up dedicated to her on ABC. Her shows are literally referred to as Shondaland shows. There are so many things I love about Shonda, but I think one of the things I love most is how open she is about her struggle to get to where she is now. It is hard to imagine a world now without Grey's Anatomy which is in its 14th season. But believe it or not, at one point, Shonda was having trouble pitching the story about such independent women to a station. Now she runs countless shows, has written a book, spoken in Ted Talks (which you can see above), and so much more. Not only is she a woman in a powerful position in the industry, but a woman of color, something we definitely need to be seeing more of, especially such intelligent and creative women as Shonda.
9. Nora Ephron (Movie and Editorial Writer)
If you haven't heard her name before, you will definitely know her from her work. Responsible for bringing When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Julie and Julia, and so many more popular romances to the big screen, Nora Ephron truly paved the way for women writers in the movies. I will admit that I did not know much about her until I watched the HBO documentary about her life (which you can watch the trailer for above), but now I want to learn so much more about her. Hearing such popular and influential people in the industry talk about how much they respected and wanted to work with her, shows just how unique of a person she was. Nora used her own life experiences to create relatable and unforgettable stories, and worked her way up from being a small columnist writer, to writing some of the most well known romantic movies of all time. If you get a chance to watch this documentary about her, I highly recommend it, and I hope that her story will speak to you as much as it did to me.
10. Oprah Winfrey (Talk Show Host, Actress, TV and Movie Writer)
I mean, can you truly have a list of inspirational women without Oprah? I don't think I need to say much about just how influential and amazing she is, but if you haven't watched the speech above that she made at the 2018 Golden Globe awards, make sure you check it out. It wraps up all in one video what an amazing person she is, along with being unbelievably powerful, intelligent, and giving. I couldn't think of anyone better to finish up my list with.
All of these women and so many more have inspired me in many ways. My dream to work in the film industry through my art began when I was in high school, one of the most impressionable times in a young person's life. And so to have these women in the industry to look up to and hear stories about, was very important in getting me where I am today. If you want to learn more about women in the film industry and the media, I encourage you to watch this amazing documentary Miss Representation, which can be found on Netflix and a few other streaming sites. I watched it while making my senior thesis project, and it is a great insight into the role women have in Hollywood and the media in general. You can watch the trailer for it below. I hope that these posts during Women's History month have been interesting, and given you a new way to look at and discuss women in the industry. And if you enjoyed this post and would like to see more like it, make sure to give it a like, or leave me a comment about women who inspire you below!