Written by Fleur Feeney |
So much of our life is influenced by inspirational figures, whether it’s the women on the telly or in your own home. In the following list are just some of the women that have inspired me in my career aspirations and my own personal fights. I encourage everyone, whatever your gender, to find some positive role models in your life – take from this list if you like! You won’t regret it.
I first discovered Mindy Kaling by watching her show The Mindy Project, a sitcom about a romcom-obsessed OB/GYN trying to find love and success in New York. To this day I love that show, and it’s shaped so many of my career aspirations.
Mindy was discovered for her play Matt and Ben in which she and her friend spoofed Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s friendship, going on to get a writing gig at The Office US, which led to her own show on Fox. She’s now been involved in bigger projects like Ocean’s 8 and the upcoming Late Night, in which she co-stars with Dame Emma Thompson (I know!). I will recommend her books Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and Why Not Me till my dying breath — they’re laugh-out-loud hilarious, deeply moving, a serious source of inspiration and have some useful tips about The Industry.
Mindy Kaling has made waves for women of colour in Hollywood. She created a space for herself, and showed people that, yes, women are damn funny. She’s smart, she’s cool, she’s sexy, she’s funny, and everything I want to be when I grow up. Kids, look to Mindy for inspiration. Grasp every opportunity you get and show people what you’re made of. Mindy taught me that I deserve to take up space, and that if I work hard, I too can be successful.
Jameela Jamil is a force of nature. Jameela was the first solo female presenter on a Radio 1 chart show, is an award-winning journalist, TV presenter and now plays Tahani Al-Jamil on Michael Schur’s The Good Place.
I am particularly inspired by her quest to empower women. Off her own back, she has been taking a stand against airbrushing, against endorsing weight loss products and ‘flat tummy teas’. Using her own harrowing experience with anorexia nervosa and being airbrushed, she’s using her platform to take a stand. I urge you to sign her petition against promoting flat tummy teas, to take part in her campaign #IWeigh, and to watch The Good Place (that last one just being because the show may just be the best show on earth).
We’re lucky to have women like Jameela Jamil in the world telling us to love ourselves. Jameela taught me to be a better feminist, to always hold myself accountable and to strive to do better.
I have been in love with this woman since I saw the first Harry Potter film, and she’s failed to disappoint me ever since. Of course, Emma is a wonderful actor, but I admire her for her studious spirit and humanitarian efforts, especially in regards to gender equality.
Emma’s #HeForShe speech at the UN changed my life, and I recommend you watch it if you haven’t already — Malala Yousafzai admitted she decided to call herself a feminist after watching this speech. As a UN ambassador and in her personal life she has worked to improve the lives of girls, supporting education, encouraging engagement with politics and much more. She even started a feminist book club in 2016 — reading and women’s rights? What more could you want?
Emma taught me that education is the key, and that we can always strive to better ourselves. The work she’s done to improve The Industry, especially her work with Time’s Up, has shown me that we don’t have to take things as they are.
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Thank you to everyone who has been part of TIME’S UP over the past year. ? From my sisters in the film industry to the activists and campaigners around the world who have supported us, I’ve been so inspired by the way people have reached out to each other, shared experiences and advice, and organised together as part of this movement for change. ? Gender equality can only become a reality if we harness the transformative power of solidarity across professions and across borders. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ There’s still a long way to go, but the achievements so far make me optimistic for a fairer future. 2018 was just the beginning. ?? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ? See link in bio for some reflections on the journey of Time’s Up that I shared with @cnn.
Malala gained the world’s attention when she was critically injured by an assassination attempt made by the Taliban in retaliation to her activism. A smart and vocal young woman, Malala is actually the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. She has also authored a global bestseller and starred in an Academy Award nominated documentary, and is now studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford.
Another force to be reckoned with? You bet.
Malala literally put her life on the line to campaign for girls’ education; she is eloquent and down to earth and above all, she is courageous. Malala shows us that no matter who you are, you can make change. Just using your voice has so much power.
J. K. Rowling
I have my problems with J. K. Rowling, as many people do, but I have to admit her influence on me has been crucial to the woman I’ve become. Reading Harry Potter gave me some of my first ever positive female role models — even if they were fictional! Hermione was the clever, hardworking, outspoken girl I always wanted to be.
With just a laptop and a baby on her knee, Rowling created an empire, a multi-layered, multi-platform universe adored by millions. Her work was one of the first pieces of literature that made me think, ‘This is what I want to do,’ and made me believe that I could do it.
We are so lucky to be surrounded by these inspirations and to be inspired by them. We’re so lucky to be in an environment that encourages more and more women to be clever, funny, brave. Take note from your sisters, lift each other up, and use these women to fuel your own fight, no matter what it may be.