Over the weekend, the MissRepresentation campaign criticized GQ's latest cover for suggesting that the ideal "All-American Girl" is a sexualized object alone. The campaign therefore sent out a call to action, asking people to write about five of their female heroes, the women who they aspire to be like. Although this isn't a blog for personal things, I wanted to join in the campaign by writing about five women in the entertainment business who I admire. As I'm a native Brit and adoptive American, I've included both British and American women.
If you haven't already, check out the trailer for the Miss Representation documentary, which explores how women are represented in the media, or visit the Miss Representation campaign website to get involved.
1. Joanne Rowling
I've been a massive fan of this woman for as long as I can remember. Obviously, she's a talented storyteller, a self-made millionaire (billionaire?) and possibly the modern day's most well-known writer, despite the frequent sexism in the literary world. And all that is awesome. But she also strikes me as an incredibly kind and genuine person who is really appreciative of her fans and all that she's earned. She worked hard and never gave up, and she was massively rewarded for it. She has spoken publicly about her experience with depression in order to offer support and encouragement to others. She's deeply involved in charity work, particularly regarding children's welfare. She is absolutely my hero.
2. Jane Espenson
Jane Espenson has worked as a writer on loads of sci-fi and fantasy shows, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, Gilmore Girls, Firefly, Game of Thrones and Once Upon a Time. She won a Hugo for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and has become quite an influential writer and producer in both a field (TV writing) and a genre (sci-fi/fantasy) that are typically dominated by men. She's very helpful to beginning writers, with a (sadly no-longer-updated) blog about the skills of TV writing and a very active Twitter.
3. Vienna Teng / Cynthia Yi Shih
Vienna Teng is a Taiwanese-American singer-songwriter who writes beautiful, emotionally revealing songs that are a joy to listen to. She studied computer science at Stanford and worked as a computer programmer before becoming a professional musician. She's currently also studying for an MA at the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan. She's intelligent, articulate, dedicated and talented, and overall a lovely person.
4. Emma Watson
Emma Watson doesn't really need an introduction. Despite being involved in one of the most high-profile film productions ever since she was nine years old, she always strikes me as incredibly well-grounded, and managed to both film eight movies and get top grades in her GCSEs and A Levels, eventually going on to study at Brown University. She's involved in ethical fashion, and is an ambassador for Camfed International, a charity focused on educating girls in rural Africa. She's a self-described feminist and speaks articulately and intelligently about all kinds of issues.
5. Maureen Johnson
Maureen Johnson is the author of many young adult novels, but she's perhaps even better known for being a tour-de-force on Twitter. She is a witty and entertaining woman who seems perfectly content to be as "weird" as she pleases (and delightful for it). She has written articles and appeared on radio shows defending the importance of YA fiction, and spearheaded the YA Saves campaign to fight back against criticism of YA for being too "dark." She is also involved in a lot of charity projects, including using Twitter to raise money for ShelterBox, and donating the proceeds of the YA Saves campaign to Reading it Fundamental. She's passionate, articulate and utterly individual, and I love and admire her for it.