Here are some of the fictional women I look up to. Well written, and well performed- if they were real, I would definitely take time to have lunch with them. They all have helped to shape who I am today and have furthered my interest in the entertainment industry.
I don’t think anyone wants to be one of a hundred colors in a box.
Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss)- Mad Men
Unfortunately, I didn’t catch on the Mad Men hype until after the show ended. This summer with an abundance of time on my hands and a new Netflix account, I decided to give Mad Men a shot. After a couple of episodes, I fell in love with the show. I loved the skilled acting, historical accuracy, and the depth of the characters. Of all the characters’ story lines, Peggy’s resonated with me the most. She is is the perfect display of amazing character development in a television series. In the beginning of Mad Men, she starts out as a timid secretary, and in the end, she has become strong and outspoken, and has managed to climb her way to the position of copy chief. Seeing as Mad Men takes place from 1960 to 1970, Peggy’s ascent is all the more inspiring. Although she hit some rocks along the way (Faulty relationship with lovers and family, pregnancy, and gross sexism), she manages to maintain her professionalism, and doesn’t let setbacks get in the way of her career. She proves that you can succeed in a male-dominated profession, and it is OK to be ambitious. She gains the respect of Don Draper, and eventually slime Peter Campbell.
Maxine Shaw (Erika Alexander)- Living Single
Attorney at law. The Maverick. Growing up, my Mom constantly had Living Single reruns playing on our TV. I always enjoyed the show, but didn’t develop a true appreciation for it until much later. A precursor to Sex and the City, Living Single follows four female friends in New York City, all successful in their own right. Maxine Shaw, though is my favorite character. She’s unapologetic, successful, confident, and intelligent. Some people are intimidated by her success, but she doesn’t care. She’s a true modern woman. She loves food, her career, and men (In that order). I also loved how she is a woman in power- who constantly wears natural hairstyles. Throughout the series, she proudly flaunts dreads and braids, something that is not see much in corporate America to this day. She stands as one of the first great portrayals of successful women of color.
Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifa)- Last Holiday
In the beginning of Last Holiday, Georgia Byrd is no one to look up to, but when she finds out she has a fatal disease that gives her only 3 weeks to live, she immediately throws caution to the wind and embarks on a vacation to her dream resort, the Hotel Pupp where she decides to treat herself to the very end. Almost overnight, Georgia becomes confident and independent. Well if I was given only 3 weeks to live, I would change too! During this time, Georgia decides to do everything she wanted to do over the course of her life, and she does it alone. Seeing how extraordinary she appears, the other resort residents take interest in her. Even in what she thought were her last days, Georgia doesn’t let other people’s opinions or actions keep her from doing as she wishes or distracting her from enjoying herself. While she does find love in the end, it wasn’t a focus for her initially. With the discovery she is going to live, Georgia decides to leave her old life behind and live her life to the fullest.
Vivian Banks (Janet Hubert)- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Janet Hubert’s Vivian Banks is the epitome of a strong black woman. She’s an amazing mother, aunt, wife, sister, and teacher. Phillip Banks, being a strong successful man, has an equally strong and successful woman going through life beside him. Vivian Banks is equally, and if not more impressive than Phillip Banks, having a PhD. from UCLA, but choosing the role of housewife over work. She never apologizes for her success, but still maintains a strong connection to her humble beginnings. Even though Phillip Banks is the head of household, she still has a firm holding on decisions, and has the full respect of her husband. Unfortunately with the departure of Janet Hubert, the role of Vivian Banks changed.
Ana Garcia (America Ferrera)- Real Women Have Curves
I love Ana because she defies the traditional roles she was doomed to follow. Extremely intelligent, Ana is encouraged by her teacher to apply to college. At first Ana is reluctant because her family has sentenced her to working at her sister Estella’s clothing factory and bending over to the traditional roles set for Hispanic women:to get married, and bare children. Ana is considered selfish by her mother, but she is doing her best to better herself, and she refuses to let her looks distract from her intellect. Her attitude is, “This is who I am. Deal with it.” She remains firm in her personal beliefs despite her family’s active discouragement. While working in the factory, Ana helps Estella talk to her boss, and points out the women’s unfair wages. Although she had “betrayed” her mother by deciding to attend Columbia University, Ana liberated herself. One of my favorite scenes of all time is seeing Ana walking through Times Square like a “lady” as her mother had told her to do. Embracing her new independence, Ana struts off screen, and we never see what happens next.
Annie Edison (Alison Brie) Community
Just a disclaimer, I have just barely started watching Community, so I don’t know everything that happens yet! No spoilers! While I am still early on in Community, I have taken an extreme liking to Annie. In community college to turn her life around , Annie is determined to succeed. She involves herself in everything, and tries to give everything a hundred percent, no matter how ridiculous it may be. I would probably consider myself as more of a Britta, but I aspire to be more like Annie. I know that over the course of the series Annie evolves from a peppy, (almost) annoying teenager to a mature, young woman. She strives to break away from being viewed as a child of the group, and proves she is capable of making her own decisions.
Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) Harry Potter
I’ve read all the Harry Potter books, and I remember the intense excitement when the movies came out. Hermione was always one of my heroines. Although the world of Harry Potter is entirely fictional, Hermione stands as one of the series’ most relatable characters. She deals with racism, and is striving to succeed in a place that says she shouldn’t. At first she is depicted as an annoying know-it-all, but evolves into being seen as the “brightest witch of her age” and indispensable as a friend and magic companion to Harry and Ron. At the age of 17, Hermione has gone through more than what most people can only imagine to go through. She is forced into making very adult decisions such as erasing her parents’ memory, and deciding to stick by Harry’s side (Unlike Ron) while looking for the remainder of Voldemort’s horcruxes. As well as being for more intelligent than most her age, she is far more mature.
Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) Heathers
Seeing as Heathers is one of my favorite 80’s films, it was easy to pick Veronica Sawyer as one of my favorite bad ass women in film. A darker version of Mean Girls, Heathers provides scathing commentary on that menacing place called high school and the desperation to fit in. I admire Veronica because she is still an individual despite being part of an exclusive group, then later on wises up to the Heathers. Knowing the truth about the murders going on, Veronica also calls out the bullcrap suicide trend cultivated by J.D. The biggest triumph here is Veronica standing up to J.D. She hated the school and the Heathers too- so she could have easily went along with J.D.’s psychotic plan. Instead she saves the school from being blown to bits, and gives J.D. the biggest EFF YOU by lighting up a cigarette as he proceeds to commit suicide. In the end, she lays claim to the red bow and invites Martha (Dumptruck) to hang out.
(Almost) The Entire Cast of Orange is the New Black
It was extremely hard to pick just one character. I love almost all them. The fact that all the characters are in prison means we have to learn their stories. Even though all of these women are criminals, the show makes us feel for them, no matter how serious their crime. What makes Orange such a success is its depictions of a variety of female characters: Characters from different economic backgrounds, races and ethnicities, sexual orientations, and belief systems, are all portrayed with amazing authenticity.
Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) My Big Fat Greek Wedding
With themes similar to Real Women Have Curves, it was a given that I admired Toula. Toula was brought up as traditionally Greek, and brought up to work in her family’s restaurant, and was also expected to adhere to traditional female roles such as getting married and “making babies”. In the movie, Toula decides to leave her family’s restaurant and pursue an education in computers. While her father constantly dissuades her, Toula is never spiteful or disrespectful. The act of getting an education was a large step in changing her life, giving Toula independence and a break from her family.While she is in school, we see her decide to sit with a group of women instead of alone as she did in the beginning of the movie. She finds love as a side effect of living her life.