I've always admired women who kick ass and take names - the "Rosie the Riveters" who exemplify gal-pal power and don't apologize for it. As a little girl, my role models ranged from The Powerpuff Girls to power-pantsuit business women. Now, as a woman myself, there are many accomplished women that I look up to - not only because of how they've leveraged their skills to achieve success, but also because of their demeanor - how they carry themselves in times of success and in times of failure. Below you'll find five "wonder women" - an author, a comedienne, an artist, and entrepreneur, and even a fictional character - that I admire and look up to.
J.K. Rowling - The beloved author of the Harry Potter series stole my heart in middle school when I discovered the wizarding world for the first time. When Rowling wrote “every boy and girl would know Harry's name” in the context of the series, little did she know that this would end up being the case among muggles all around the globe. Like many kids, I grew up with Harry, Hermione and Ron - and they were my friends when nobody else was. My obsession peaked at the beginning of high school, but these days I am still curious to hear any HP news. I am in awe of how calm, cool, collected, and focused J.K. Rowling has remained amidst extreme fame and money. She continues to produce fantastic work based around Harry and his friends adventures' - including a 2-part play that has just begun its run in London and that I hope to catch someday.
Kristen Wiig - Better known as SNL characters Penelope, Gilly, Surprise Sue, and Travel Agent Judy Grimes - or perhaps you know her as “that chick from Bridesmaids” - Wiig is my favorite comedienne amidst the Feys, Poehlers and Kalings of the world. She commits to whatever role she’s playing - whether that’s destroying a giant cookie and ruining a bridal shower in Bridesmaids or appearing on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon as Michael Jordan. Like Rowling, Wiig tends to stay out to the limelight, so I really don’t know that much about her. It’s clear that she’s focused on her art as she continues to push the boundaries and try new things - from writing and directing to taking on more serious roles - as evidenced by her performance with former SNL co-star Bill Hader in The Skeleton Twins. I can only hope that she too, like Fey, Poehler and Kaling, publishes her own memoir.
Jeni Britton Bauer - If there’s one ice cream brand I had to eat the rest of my life, it would be Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. If there was one particular ice cream I had to eat the rest of my life, it would be Brambleberry Crisp … from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. I first had Jeni’s from a shop in Nashville called Hot ’n Cold and was immediately addicted to the richly unique yet easily palatable flavors. I began keeping tabs on the brand to see what they were up to, and soon after, Jeni’s opened their own shop in town, and then another, and then another. Now they have four storefronts in Nashville - and deservedly so! Why do I love Jeni’s so much? Because they have taken one of the best things in the world - ice cream - and made it even better. Not only do they have a quality product - but they have quality marketing and customer service to match. When they had not one - but two - listeria scares - they took care of it beautifully and didn’t get defensive one bit. In a world where we’re taught that you often have to make sacrifices for quality when building a brand, Jeni’s stands out as one that refuses to cut corners - and continues to grow! I had the chance to meet Jeni at a conference and was shaking from nerves when I spoke to her because of how much I admire her grit in building her business from the ground up. If Jeni's headquarters weren’t in Columbus, I’d probably attempt to land a corporate gig with them (and not just because of the ice cream perks).
Alessia Cara - It’s always important to look up to someone who is younger than you. In my case, that person is 20-year-old Alessia Cara. Like most folks, I first heard her single “Here” on the radio - you know, that song where the girl doesn’t want to be at the party. When a coworker encouraged me to listen to the whole album, I enjoyed it, but I was truly sold when I saw her live. Not only does she have the pipes to perform, but she also uses her platform to speak truth: I was most encouraged as she spoke about her own struggle with body image before introducing her song “Scars To Your Beautiful”. Needless to say, Alessia hasn’t been caught in throws of hollywood pop culture yet - and I hope she doesn’t ever get roped in.
Frances Halladay - Frances, unlike the other women in this list, is not a real person, but a fictional character in the Noah Baumbach film, Frances Ha. Perfectly played by actress Greta Gerwig, Frances finds herself struggling to actualize her dream of dancing professionally in New York City while simultaneously grieving the loss of a best friend to marriage. In a world of opportunity and competition, and where friends come and go, I easily relate to Frances' dreams, insecurities, and disappointments. Throughout all the confusion and loss Frances experiences, she stays light on her feet, living life day-by-day, and eventually ending up where she needs to be. Frances' seeming ability to navigate (or perhaps just keep moving forward in) the world the live in today comforts me. She also reminds me that every person in the world is unique and worthy of love and respect, quirks and all.
In the dog-eat-dog society we live in, it's easy to focus on your own path without recognizing examples set by others. My hope is that I will remember to continue stopping and looking around at how others encourage and inspire me, whether I know them personally or not.