A time for commemorating female accomplishments, the month of March is Women’s History Month. Women have made a prominent impact in the entertainment industry, where eminent producers, actresses, artists and authors have all set milestones, helping create the blueprint for today’s pop culture.
Trailblazers like ventriloquist Shirley Dinsdale was the first person and woman to win an Emmy Award in 1949 as Most Outstanding Personality. This year alone at the Grammy Awards, Taylor Swift’s album “Folklore” won album of the year and Beyoncé broke the record as the most-awarded female artist. And in an Academy Awards first, more than one woman was nominated for 2021 Best Director.
Chloe Zhao was nominated for “Nomadland, and Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Women.” Here is a look at only women who have had a major impact on the entertainment industry.
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Behind the award winning TV series “Grey’s Anatomy,” Shonda Rhimes is the executive producer and head writer for the acclaimed medical drama. Rhimes began her career as an unemployed scriptwriter in Hollywood. She worked her way up, assisting in writing “The Princess Diaries.” Rhimes was the executive producer for “Scandal” and “The Catch.”
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Known best as the show host of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Oprah Winfrey is a TV host, philanthropist, actress and author. Her talk show ran for 25 seasons, sharing stories from ordinary people to interviewing celebrities. Winfrey began her own book club, Oprah’s Book Club, as a segment on her show, encouraging audiences to read and discuss novels. As one of the most influential women in America, Winfrey has inspired younger generations to achieve their dreams. Most recently, Winfrey interviewed Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, exposing the Royal family, bringing up controversial yet important topics such as racism.
Debra Martin Chase
Producer of the well known “The Princess Diaries” sequel, “Harriet,” “Lemonade Mouth” and many more, Debra Martin Chase has been nominated for the Primetime Emmy Outstanding Variety, Music or Comical Special for “Cinderella,” which premiered in 1997. Chase is partnered with Disney, making her one of the first female African American producers to have a partnership with a major studio. Chase’s accomplishments empower younger women and women of color to work towards accomplishments.
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Hollywood famous, Marilyn Monroe is still one of the most significant figures that depict American pop culture. Monroe starred in many successful films including, “Some Like It Hot, “Seven Year Itch” and “Don’t Bother to Knock,” and even won the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role in “Some Like It Hot.” As the face of the sexual revolution of the ‘60s, Monroe is remembered as an iconic symbol of the sexual liberation social movement. As a model, actress and singer, Monroe was a women’s rights activist, breaking social norms of what was deemed as attractive during the era.
Playing the iconic role of Holly Golightly in the Oscar winning film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Audrey Hepbrun was a film and style icon during the mid-20th century. Hepburn also starred in classic films including “Sabrina” and “My Fair Lady.” She swayed many hearts through her elegance and her distinctive style portrayed on and off camera. In her later years, Hepburn became the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, helping underprivileged young children around the world.
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Nominated for 21 Academy awards and 32 Golden Globe awards, Meryl Streep is a prominent actress in the film industry. Streep has starred in renowned films such as “Devil Wears Prada,” the “Mamma Mia!” sequel, “Little Women” and “Defending Your Life.” Streep is known for her versatility as an actress and her ability to portray different accents for her characters.
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Known for her charismatic role as defense of law professor, Annalise Keating, in the tv series “How to Get Away with Murder,” Viola Davis made history as the first African American to achieve the “Triple Crown of Acting,” winning an Academy Award, Primetime Emmy Award and two Tony Awards. Davis starred in “Fences,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “Suicide Squad.” In 2012 and 2017, Davis was named as one of the 100 most influential people by Time Magazine.
With a total of 415 career awards, R&B artist Whitney Houston was verified as the most awarded female artist of all times by the Guinness World Records as of 2010. Houston’s powerful voice has undoubtedly left an indelible mark in the music industry. Written by Dolly Parton, Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You” is her most remembered song according to Billboard. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” and “Greatest Love of All” are also considered her most popular songs.
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Also known as “Lady Day,” Billie Holiday was an influential jazz and swing music singer during the ‘30s through the ‘50s. Holiday began her career singing at Harlem nightclubs and at 18, her voice was discovered by producer John Hammond. “Billie’s Blues,” “I’ll Be Seeing You” and “Blue Moon” are a couple of her many popular songs. Using her talent and her voice, Holiday sang “Strange Fruit,” a poem exposing the racism and lynching that was especially prominent in the south.
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In the most recent GRAMMYs, Beyoncé made history, becoming the most awarded woman artist in Grammy history. Beyoncé debuted with her first solo album “Dangerously in Love” in 2003. In July 2003, “Dangerously in Love” peaked at number one on Billboard. “Irreplaceable,” “Say My Name” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” are some of her most popular songs.
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Author of more than 30 books, Maya Angelou was a poet, civil rights activist and author. Nominated for the Coretta Scott King Award for Authors, Angelou’s coming of age autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” touches upon overcoming racism and trauma. Through her powerful poems and novels, Angelou has fought towards freedom and equality.
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English novelist, Jane Austen is best known for “Pride and Prejudice” and “Emma.” Diving deep into themes of societal norms, womanhood and marriage, Austen challenged societal expectations present during the late 18th and early 19th century. Her novels still play a prominent role in literature today and have been adapted into movies.