Celebrate International Women's Day With These History-Making Women in Film, TV, Government & Pop Culture

By Kelsey Klemme Mar 08, 2020 1:00 PMTags
Watch: Cardi B First Female Rapper to Cover U.S. "Vogue"

Happy International Women's Day!

Today, all across the world, we are celebrating the contributions of women in history and in the fight for equality.

From Hollywood to Washington D.C., there are plenty of women we've seen shatter the glass ceiling to advocate for women's rights and progress in fields like politics, entertainment, literature and more. 

We're taking the day to highlight just a few of the many women who are making a huge impact.

From those who have made a wave in government, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Hillary Clinton, to those who are advocating for human rights, like Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, there are plenty of women making sure that their voices are heard in government.

There are also women who are increasing representation on screen and behind the camera in pop culture, such as Hunter Schafer on Euphoria or Ava DuVernay as a director.

All the Upcoming Must-See Films Directed by Women

Take a look at some of the women who have changed history in just the past few years. 

We know that many more are in the wings to also change history, and can't wait to see all the accomplishments women continue to achieve for years to come.

Shonda Rhimes

If you were watching TV at all in 2014, then you know that Thursdays on ABC were entirely dedicated to the Shondaland programming block. With Scandal, Grey's Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder all playing, the showrunner dominated network TV and was the first woman to create three hit shows with more than 100 episodes each after Private Practice ended its run with 111 episodes.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made history in 2018 when, at 29-years-old, she became the youngest ever woman to serve in the United States Congress. Her journey was documented in the film Knock Down the House, where her seemingly long-shot grassroots campaign served a surprise win to represent New York's 14th congressional district. From bringing her style to Washington D.C. (she is a huge fan of Rent the Runway) to giving her constituents a daily look at life as a public servant via her social media, Ocasio-Cortez has inspired plenty of women to consider running for office, too.

Hunter Schafer

There's no doubt that you were copying one of Hunter Schafer's looks from the HBO hit Euphoria, where she plays the character Jules, but even before that Schafer was influencing change around the world. Schafer, who is a trans woman, sued the state of North Carolina when she was in high school over the discriminatory HB2 bill, which limited multi-occupancy bathroom access based on sex assigned at birth. Schafer's activism continues today, as she helps the showrunner of Euphoria make sure that her character Jules (who is also trans) is represented accurately on the series.

Cardi B

There's no doubt that you've streamed the "Money" artist's music non-stop since her huge breakout into mass consciousness with 2017's "Bodak Yellow." However, did you know that she is the first female solo artist to win the Grammy category for best rap album? Last year, Invasion of Privacy took home the prize to give her that title, and we have no doubt that Cardi B will continue to break records and shatter the ceiling for other female rap artists.

Barbara Walters

You can probably hear Barbara Walters saying "and this is 2020" in your head, since the iconic TV personality led the 20/20 program for a 25-year run. From her unforgettable interviews with figures like Patrick Swayze during his cancer diagnosis and Monica Lewinsky after breaking her silence, the host has set a standard for news anchors. What you may not know? Walters was the first ever female co-anchor for a nightly network news program!

Kathryn Bigelow

Only five women have ever been nominated for the Best Director honor at the Academy Awards, and Kathryn Bigelow is the only woman to have ever nabbed the prize. An interesting fact about her win is that her film, The Hurt Locker, beat out her ex-husband James Cameron's film Avatar for the trophy.

Amy Schumer

The hilarious comedian has made us laugh from her stand-up specials to her movies and shows like Trainwreck and Inside Amy. However, Amy Schumer is also a record-breaker, as she is the first ever female comedian to headline the iconic Madison Square Garden, as well as land on the annual Forbes highest-paid comedian list.

Jane Fonda

The two-time Oscar winner is known for her many film and TV roles, like Monster-in-Law and Grace and Frankie, but what you may not know is that she is also a huge climate activist. The movie star has been running Fire Drill Fridays, a movement that she spearheaded with Greenpeace last year, which included protesting and getting arrested every Friday in January of this year. With stars like Ted Danson, Martin Sheen and Joaquin Phoenix joining her movement and getting arrested to make a point, we know that Jane Fonda is helping move the needle on the issues.

Lana & Lilly Wachowski

The Wachowskis dominated the sci-fi space in 1999 with their breakout film The Matrix, which went on over the next four years to become a multi-film franchise. Now, Lana Wachowski will be directing, writing and producing the highly-anticipated upcoming film The Matrix 4, making her the first openly trans woman to direct a Hollywood blockbuster film.

Tammy Duckworth

Once elected to Congress, Tammy Duckworth broke many barriers, including becoming the first Thai woman to do so. In addition, she was also the first visibly disabled woman elected to Congress and, when she became a Senator, the first double-amputee to be elected in that role. The veteran also was the first-ever Senator to give birth while in office. Basically, Duckworth is knocking down every wall and making it clear that nothing should hold anyone back from being a part of public service.

Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza & Opal Tometi

In 2013, following the horrific murder of Trayvon Martin, these three activists came together to form Black Lives Matter to address the systemic ways in which black lives are targeted by violence. The co-founders are a mix of Fulbright scholars, New York Times best-selling authors, public speakers and writers who have centered their leadership around women and queer voices. From the #Free21Savage movement to honoring Sandra Bland with #SayHerName, which asks followers to elevate women and femmes no longer with us, the organization has massively centered black lives into needed political conversations and brought awareness and increased accountability to police organizations.

Ava DuVernay

You certainly know the director's work, from her Oscar-nominated film Selma to the Emmy-nominated series When They See Us, but did you know that Ava DuVernay didn't even start pursuing a career in film until later in life? Her first career was actually in public relations, but she took the initiative to fund her own first short film to give filmmaking a shot and slowly worked her way up making documentaries before becoming the first-ever woman of color to direct a $100 million or higher budgeted film, proving it's never too late to go for what you want.

Oprah Winfrey

Where to even start? Oprah Winfrey has dominated every space she's touched, from acting to magazines to her own media company. She can turn authors into bestsellers with a book club endorsement and is currently on her Oprah's 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus tour across nine cities. She's the first black female billionaire and black woman to win the coveted Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes. With all that success, you may think that she is just lucky, but what you may not know is that Oprah grew up poor, showing that with her hard work and vision, she was able to make her dreams a reality.

Reese Witherspoon

We love watching the actress in films like Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama, but it's been exciting to watch Reese Witherspoon enter another chapter of her life as a bonafide producer with her company, Hello Sunshine. You may be surprised to learn that the Oscar-winner is the executive producer behind some of the hottest shows on television, like Big Little Lies, The Morning Show and the upcoming Little Fires Everywhere. A fun fact is that when Witherspoon heard there wasn't an appetite for female-led stories, she proved them wrong, and now frequently options books by female authors to turn into blockbuster success, like she did with Gone Girl.

Halima Aden

The beautiful model can be seen on the cover of Allure, walking down the runway and getting caught looking fashionable in her street style, but she is also so much more. Halima Aden was the first contestant in the Miss USA organization to wear a burkini and hijab, improving the organization's diversity. While she didn't win the national title, she was signed to IMG Models and became the first ever woman to wear a hijab and burkini for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit and is additionally a UNICEF ambassador.

Meghan Markle

The royal rose to international prominence after her marriage to Prince Harry, however you may be surprised to learn about the Duchess' list of achievements before! She was previously an actress, having been a major character on the show Suits, and ran her own fashion blog called The Tig. In addition, she also was a counselor for the organization One Young World and even spoke at a summit in 2014 on the topics of gender equality and modern-day slavery.

Hildur Guðnadóttir

While you were watching last year's Joker, did the music help set the mood? If so, you have Hildur Guðnadóttir to thank, as she created the chilling original score for the movie. And, at this most recent Oscars ceremony, Guðnadóttir became the first-ever woman to win the Oscar for Original Score. She previously had created scores for a slew of other amazing films, such as Arrival, The Revenant and Sicario.

Hillary Clinton

The former Senator, First Lady and United State Secretary of State made history in the last election cycle when she became the major political party nominee for becoming President of the United States. Obviously, we know she ultimately was not elected, but the journey to almost getting into the White House (and through other parts of her herstory) is documented in the Hulu program, Hillary, which was recently released.

Latest News