Women who inspire us
Dr. Maya Angelou was a renowned poet, author, actress and civil rights activist. From a child in proverty to a cultral icon, her writings, including her best-selling autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" will inspire generations, even after her death on May 28, 2014.
Margaret Thatcher, known as the "Iron Lady," was the first and only woman to lead Britain. She served as Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990.
After multiple Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations—with quite a few wins along the way—Meryl Streep is considered one of the finest actresses in the United States and possibly the world, considering that the folks who produced a film about Margaret Thatcher chose Meryl to play the late Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Along the way, Meryl raised four children with her husband, artist Don Gummer.
We found out how funny she is from her years on Saturday Night Live, but when she created her award-winning sitcom, “30 Rock,” and movies like “Mean Girls” and “Baby Mama,” we discovered she could also write and produce. Then she wrote a best-selling autobiographical book, “Bossypants,” and won a Grammy for the audio version of the book. Is there anything this mother of two can’t do?
This popular stand-up comic has won multiple awards, including 13 Emmys, for her talk show and her voice-over as Dory in “Finding Nemo.” Just about everything she does is funny, but she also has her serious side and she’s not afraid to speak out about her beliefs. DeGeneres came out publicly as a lesbian in 1997 and married her partner, actress Portia de Rossi, in 2008 following the repeal of the same-sex marriage ban in California. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named DeGeneres a special envoy for Global Aids Awareness. DeGeneres is also a vegan who supports various animal welfare organizations.
Here’s a writer who is almost as well-known as her creation, Harry Potter, and her real-life story is as dramatic as any novel. A secretary when she first conceived the idea of Harry Potter, Rowling was living on welfare when she wrote the first book. With the completion of seven books in the Potter series, which have sold more than 400 million copies, and the Potter films, which are currently the highest-grossing film series in movie history, Rowling reached billionaire status and has donated more than $160 million to charity.
On everyone’s list of favorite actresses of all time, and beloved by movie fans for her performances in films such as “Roman Holiday,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “My Fair Lady” and “Wait Until Dark,” this former dancer found her true calling in support of disadvantaged children in Asia, South America and Africa. She focused the last few decades of her life on working with UNICEF, and she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom shortly before her death in 1993.
She was a secretary for the NAACP, who refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person, and she became an inspiration to generations of people who work for equal rights. Rosa Parks was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and her statue stands in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall.
An award-winning screenwriter, journalist, playwright, essayist and film director, Nora Ephron got delicious revenge when her novel about the end of her marriage became a bestseller and a popular film. Her wry humor, wit and insight made her a spokesperson for women of a certain age, and her films, including “When Harry Met Sally” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” set the bar for romantic comedies.
She’s been a fan favorite since she starred in Speed in 1994. Unafraid to try challenging roles or poke fun at her characters (“Miss Congeniality” and “The Proposal”), Bullock won the Oscar, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe awards for her role in “The Blind Side.” When rumors circulated that her then-husband, Jesse James, had affairs during their marriage, Bullock filed for divorce but completed the adoption of her son, Louis. She is also a dynamic businesswoman with her own production company, a restaurant and other businesses.