There are plenty of women in the public eye who do amazing things everyday. Not just in their jobs as actors, musicians, or comedians, but as humanitarians, social activists, global leaders and ambassadors. The unfortunate part is that they don’t get enough recognition for their wonderful contributions because of the way our society shoves talentless celebrities down our throats.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not another Kardashian basher, nor is this another post reminding you of all of the reasons why the Kardashians are terrible role models. My point is to highlight some amazing women you should know for their positive contributions to this world, and who make better role models.
Spoiler alert: they also happen to be celebrities.
1. Amy Poehler
It’s no secret that I love Amy Poehler. She is my feminist soulmate, my imaginary best friend, and the one person I would like to meet over a coffee. Poehler is a self-proclaimed feminist. She runs a site called Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls along with her best friend and fellow feminist Meredith Walker. The goal of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls is to encourage girls all over to “change the world by being yourself,” which is just great. Along with the site, there is a hilarious and heartfelt web-series where girls can ask Poehler questions about life. Poehler answers each question with nuggets of charm and wisdom. I wish when I was growing up there was such a place for me. But I never would’ve seen it because all I had was a terribly slow dial-up internet connection. I digress.
Make no mistake, this is not the only reason why Poehler is such a cool woman. She is also an active fundraiser and arts ambassador for Worldwide Orphans Foundation, which helps to support and integrate orphans back into society. It operates out of five different countries. You can feel just how passionate Poehler is about giving back when you watch her deliver a heartfelt speech that will bring you to tears (see below). She is also an advocate for people to be themselves.
2. Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox is the first transgender person of color to be a visible and powerful figure in the media. She is also the first one to be on the cover of Time magazine. She is an actress, best known for her role in Orange Is The New Black. Cox is also a producer and an LGBT activist. She is the first transgender woman of color to be on a prime time television show, be nominated for an Emmy in the acting category, and to appear on American reality television.
Cox is an extremely important face in the LGBT movement. In 2014, she joined a campaign against a law that especially targets transgender people of color. The Phoenix, Arizona law allows police to arrest anyone that is suspected of “manifesting prostitution.” Speaking of the law she stated:
“All over the country, trans women are targeted simply for being who they are. Laws like this manifestation law really support systematically the idea that girls like me…are less than [others] in this country.”
Laverne Cox is shaping history right before our eyes. At at time where it seems we are a nation divided on human rights issues, a positive role model like her is desperately needed.
3. Ellen Page
Most of you may recognize Ellen Page from her role as a sarcastic and lovable 16-year old weirdo that becomes accidentally pregnant by Michael Cera in Juno. But she’s so much more than that. After bravely coming out as a lesbian last February, the Canadian became a powerful advocate for the LGBT community. She spoke honestly and earnestly about the importance of being your true self. Since then, Page has been vocal in her support of the right of gay couples to marry all around the world, (even though it has been legal for years in her home of Canada). She even had a few things to say to the Queen.
Page is also an incredible environmental activist. She has spent time studying permaculture, living in an eco-village in Oregon and being a vocal advocate for living green. She’s been involved in the U.S Campaign Against Burka, as well as a documentary called The Vanishing of the Bees. Page chooses to work on films that align with her values. In 2013 she starred in The East, a film about an anarchist group of young individuals set out to attack large corporations and expose how corrupt corporate culture is destroying the planet. She is also currently starring in and producing an LGBT drama titled Freeheld, based on the true story of New Jersey police officer Laura Hester and her partner Stacie Andree.
In an interview with Mother Jones, Page said, “It’s about how we can all join forces. Scientists and religious leaders, activists and first nation leaders, CEOs of corporations and actors, all of us need to come together right now, because the planet is in a lot of pain”.
4. Rosario Dawson
Rosario Dawson has been an actress since she was fifteen, getting her start in the 1995 film Kids. She’s been in many films since then, including the film adaptation of Rent, Sin City, and Men in Black. What you may not know is that she is also an activist. She works closely with many organizations in New York, working specifically with an organization called the Lower East Side Girls Club that is aimed at providing mentorships and “innovative, community-based holistic programs and services for girls and young women.”
Additionally, Dawson is also involved in organizations such as Vote Latino, PFLAG, and she is a spokeswoman for Doctors Without Borders, The Nature Conservatory, and Save The Children, and there are many, many more. Dawson is also responsible for Studio One Eighty Nine, which is a fashion line that focuses “on creating opportunities for empowerment, education and employment of artisans and creatives.” She uses her name for the benefit of the greater good. As well, Dawson always plays kickass, strong female characters, which makes her an overall good role model.
5. Emma Watson
Emma Watson is so badass. She is talented, intelligent, and at the age of twenty-four is a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. You may have read about her contributions to the HeForShe campaign in a prior post, but it is important to mention her again because she is the antithesis of the vain and materialistic celebrities we see so often. Watson is the person I would want my nieces looking up to. Recently, when asked about the rumor that she was dating Prince Harry, she responded with the perfect tweet to shut it down: “Marrying a Prince is not a prerequisite to being a Princess”. Right on Emma, right on.
There are plenty of other powerful women out there making an impact, these are only a few. In a dream world little girls would look up to these women instead of the Kardashians, but that won’t happen until we start to spread the word.