There were a lot of firsts in the music industry, and one of the most significant is when country singer and songwriter Bobbie Gentry won Best New Artist in 1967. She was the first woman to get this award and the next solo woman to do so was Carly Simon in 1971.
For decades Meryl Streep has been an award show shoe-in when it comes to winning and not-so-surprisingly all those wins have made her a big deal in the acting world and in Hollywood. All of her achievements are also a big win for women, because she has eclipsed men at two of the biggest award shows and we can't help but bow down to her greatness. Let's take the Oscars for example, since her first nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 1978, Streep has been nominated for a record 21 Academy Awards and taken home three. Throughout her history with the Golden Globes, the Mamma Mia star has received 32 nominations and won nine, including the Cecile B. DeMille Award, which is more nominations and wins than any other actor, male or female.
Animated movies are loved by people of all ages, but did you know that it wasn't until 2011 that a woman solely directed one? It's true! With Kung Fu Panda 2, Jennifer Yuh Nelson became the first woman to direct an animated feature from a major Hollywood studio on her own. She was also the head of story for the original Kung Fu Panda and co-directed the third installment of the franchise.
The one and only Aretha Franklin was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and as the Queen of Soul she totally deserved it.
Karen Arthur has 45 directing credits to her name including work on Hart to Hart and Cagney and Lacey, which is what she's best known for. In 1985, she earned the Emmy for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series for Cagney and Lacey's episode titled "Heat," making her the first woman to win that category and it took 10 more years for another woman to win again.
Despite the fact that a lot of moments in Hollywood had women playing catch up, when it comes to the Emmys, they were actually the first ones billed. Well, Shirley Dinsdale Layburn was at least when she was given the first-ever Emmy handed out at the award show in 1949. This also made her the first woman to win an Emmy, which she did for Most Outstanding Personality for her work as a ventriloquist and TV and radio personality...while she was just a college student.
The "I Like It" singer showed the boys who's boss when she finally broke into the traditionally all-men's club of successful rap artists. She did this by becoming the first solo woman to ever win Best Rap Album for her Invasion of Privacy record at the 2019 Grammys.
Over the past five years, Ava DuVernay has paved the way for women of color in directing. She became the first black female filmmaker to win Sundance's Best Director prize, as well as the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director with Selma. She was also the first woman of color nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars with 13th and then in 2016, she became the first black female director to make a movie with a $100 million budget for A Wrinkle in Time.
In 2019, the Killing Eve star became the first person of Asian descent (not to mention woman of Asian descent) to host the Golden Globes. She also became the first woman with her background to win multiple Golden Globes with her second overall win.
Lady Gaga really spread her wings in 2018, which led to a massive 2019 awards season for her thanks to her portrayal of Ally in A Star Is Born. Although she didn't win Best Actress at the Oscars, she did win an Oscar for her song from the film, "Shallow." This achievement solidified her spot in herstory as the first woman to win an Oscar, Grammy, BAFTA and Golden Globe all in the same year.
In another big Oscar moment, Marlee Matlin took a step forward for both women and actors who are deaf when she became the first deaf person to ever win an acting Oscar. In 1987, she accepted the Academy Award for Best Actress for the role of Sarah Norman in Children of a Lesser God.
In 1962, Rita Moreno became the first Latina to win an acting Oscar when she took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing Anita Palacio in West Side Story. The actress went onto become an EGOT and in 2018 she returned to the Oscars wearing the same dress she wore when she made history!
The daytime talk show pro might be a staple on TV now, and when she first started The Ellen DeGeneres Show she was paving the way for gay individuals and women in general by being the first openly gay talk show host. This followed her very public coming out on her series Ellen in 1997, which made her the first openly gay actor to play an openly gay character on TV.
Barbara Walters is one of the most recognizable journalists in America and the world for that matter and it's probably because she's been in the business for so long. In fact, in 1974 she earned the title of "co-host" which was a first for women with her job at The Today Show. She then became the first female co-anchor in an evening news program while working at ABC Evening News before going on to 20/20 and then The View.
Greta Gerwig's directorial debut Lady Bird, was a big film in 2017 winning two Golden Globes and being nominated for four overall, but that wasn't all it did. The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and two other awards at the Oscars, which made Gerwig the first female director to earn a nomination for Best Director for her directorial debut. Pretty awesome, right?
The power duo of Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler might be our favorite Golden Globes hosting pair of all time. To make their hilarious partnership at the award show over the years even sweeter, when they first hosted back in 2013 they became the first females to host the award show without a male counterpart in history and they killed it.
Taylor Swift has had a massive career all before the age of 30 and in that time she became the first woman to win Album of the Year at the Grammys twice. Adele later went on to achieve the same honor.
In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow shook up the directing field with her Oscars win. She became the first woman to win Best Director at the Academy Awards and it was for a war movie no less called The Hurt Locker.
In 1984, Barbara Streisand won a Golden Globe for Best Director for Yentl, which she also starred in, becoming the first woman to win this category.
The Murphy Brown star was the first woman to host Saturday Night Live in 1975, and in 1990 she became the first woman to make it into The Five-Timers Club. Since her admittance into the club only four other women have earned that honor and it took nearly 20 years before the second female, Drew Barrymore, hit that mark.
The Marshall family is Hollywood royalty and they have the successes to back them up. Even though Penny Marshall's brother Gary Marshall was a legend, her acting skills and directing credits made her a role model and gave all females a career to shoot for. One of her biggest achievements in film is that she was actually the first woman to direct a film that grossed over $100 million for Big back in 1988. A few years later, in 1992, she again directed Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own, which grossed more than $100 million at the domestic box office as well.
Girls just wanna have fun...and make history! Cyndi Lauper became the first female to win a solo Tony Award for Best Original Score in 2013 for Kinky Boots and we're shocked it took so long.
We all know that Oprah Winfrey is a boss babe, but did you know that she was the first woman to own and produce her own talk show with The Oprah Winfrey Show? Yes, it's true! That success paired with all of her other profitable ventures also made her the first African-American female billionaire.