We look throughout the years to women who inspired us, motivated us to do better. The women that taught us how to be badasses. There are now so many roles that we love and appreciate for showing us what we are capable of as females. While there are many films now that showcase the strength and power that women possess, there are also films in the past that honored the definition of a strong female. Check out the movies we love that have a strong female role!
Hidden Figures features three strong female roles showcasing three amazing mathematicians who are crucial to Nasa’s space program. Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, and Octavia Spencer headline this empowering and inspirational film. Often women are told they cannot do something simply because she is a female. This film is encouraging to women worldwide of many age ranges and shows that you can do anything regardless of your gender. What is also wonderful about this film is that it features three amazing African-American women we love to see in film and television. The story captured in this film is a true story based on a real-life African-American team of women. We love the actresses, love the story, and love that it is based on real life!
The Secret Life of Bees
The Secret Life of Bees is the film adaptation of a book with the same title. The story is about a fourteen-year-old girl named Lily Owens, played by Dakota Fanning, who is plagued by the memories of her deceased mother and the abuse she endures from her father. Lily runs away with her caregiver, played by Jennifer Hudson. Lily begins living in the south and meets the Boatwright sisters; they take her in and teach her about beekeeping. The sisters are played by Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo, and Alicia Keys. All the while, Lily learns the truth about her mother and grows a strong bond with all the women around her. The film is jam-packed with amazing actresses and strong females we absolutely love.
Legally Blonde stars Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Coolidge, and Selma Blair. We love this film because Reese Witherspoon brings to life a fun yet strong female character that teaches us looks can be deceiving. Elle Woods seems shallow and knows more about fashion and high-end shopping, but when her boyfriend Warner dumps her for Selma Blair’s character Vivian because she seems smarter on the outside and inside, Elle is determined to show her ex-boyfriend how wrong he was for dumping her. Elle then studies to get into Harvard Law, the school where both Warner and Vivian attend. Despite Elle showing she has what it takes to tackle a case in court, she still deals with the stigma associated with her being a female and, of course, her looks. Warner tells Elle that his family would want him with a Jackie, not a Marylin, as if to say that her looks determine how smart and capable she is. Once Elle proves she is more than capable of taking on a case and winning, Warner changes his mind about Elle, but she realizes she is worth more than what Warner ever thought of her. With the help of Jennifer Coolidge, her nail technician, Elle rises to the top and gains confidence and empowerment in being a strong, smart female, regardless of how she looks on the outside. The film may be comical, but it also touches on common societal issues that women are incapable of doing certain jobs simply because we are female or because of how we look.
Dangerous Minds is a 1995 film starring Michelle Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer’s role is that of a former Marine that lands a teaching job for a pilot program for underachieving students. The students are smart and bright, but many come from troubling backgrounds or live in rough areas. When Pfeiffer starts teaching, she has a terrible first day and realizes her tactics need to be changed. She waltzes back into the school the next day with the determination to make a difference in the kid’s lives, no matter what. While she is teaching, she grows and bonds with the children and instills that they are smart and capable of rising above what everyone thinks they should be. They do not have to become another statistic but instead can do what they dream or want.
Freedom Writers is based on a book and stars Hilary Swank. Swank’s character Erin Gruwell is a teacher for high-risk students at a racially divided Los Angeles school. Gruwell refuses to give up despite the odds and encourages the students to take an interest in their futures and lives. Gruwell decides to assign reading material that directly relates to the students and has them keep journals based on what they read, how they feel, and what they themselves experience upon reading the assigned material. Swank’s role is to inspire and encourage the teenagers to look for more in life than what they believe they are destined for; instead, she pushes them to take their education seriously and find the direct correlation between the material and their lives. When we see women changing the lives of others for the better, we have to honor these roles as inspiring and strong.
Losing Isaiah is a 1995 film based on a novel of the same title. The film stars Jessica Lange and Halle Berry. Kahila Richards, played by Halle Berry, is a young woman who abandons her infant son in a dumpster while looking for her next drug fix. The boy is found and taken to the hospital, where it is discovered he is also addicted to crack cocaine-like his mother. The social worker, Margaret Lewin, is caring for him, grows fond, and eventually wishes to adopt the boy and bring him into her family. While he is adopted and living with his new loving family, Isaiah is growing close to his family. Still, his birth mother is unaware that the boy is alive and continues to get herself into trouble and ends up in rehab. After three years, Kahlia completes her rehab program and confesses that she abandoned her son in the dumpster. Eventually, a lawyer is hired, played by Samuel L. Jackson, and a nasty court battle plays out. The film depicts the difficulty of both sides of the story, both for Lewin and for Richards. One of the most hard-hitting things is to see how hard it was for young Isaiah to deal with what was happening. His world was changing, and what he knew as home was suddenly changing because of his birth mother’s return. Overall, the adoption was overturned, but Isaiah struggles to accept his birth mom. Because of this, Kahlia asks for Lewin to step back to not keep confusing the boy. While both of the mothers love Isaiah, it is all about the strength and perseverance of a strong woman. They accept one another but realize changes have to be made to provide what is best for the young boy. Both Berry and Lange have strong roles depicting very different lives and stories. Losing Isaiah is an inspiring, heartfelt film with strong female leads who drive the film to its full potential.
Now & Then
Now & Then captures the story of four childhood best friends who come together for one of their pregnancies. The Film starts off with Rosie O Donnell, Demi Moore, and Melanie Griffith visiting their friend Crissy played by Rita Wilson. The four women are there for the birth of Crissy’s child. Still, before she has the baby, they reminisce on their childhood, thus beginning the film with Christina Ricci, Thora Birch, Gaby Hoffman, and Ashleigh Aston Moore with their Summer antics. Throughout the film, we see the issues each of the girl’s faces, be it with growing up without a mother, divorce, first love, and much more. We witness the strength and bond each of the girls has together as they face obstacles and coming of age. At the end of the film, we witness the birth of Crissy’s child and her being surrounded by her childhood friends. Each of them is a different, unique, independent, and strong woman in their own right, and the film ends in a full circle with the women playing red rover with smaller children, much like how the film opens when we are introduced to the women as young girls. The film is all about finding yourself, embracing yourself, and most of all being a great friend who stands by you no matter what.
House Bunny follows suit to Legally blonde, in the fact that a former playboy bunny is thrust into the college atmosphere and becomes a house more for a sorority that is unpopular and filled with what others would deem as misfits and outcasts. The film stars Anna Farris, Emma Stone, Kat Dennings, Rumer Willis, and Katherine McPhee. Shelley Darlingson, played by Anna Farris, becomes the house mom and learns what it takes to help the young women in the sorority become popular. Shelley gives the girls makeovers, and suddenly the girls become the hot sorority house, all while losing who they are on the inside. At the same time, Shelley falls for a man that is all about brains. So, while she is giving makeovers to the girls, the girls are helping her become more reserved and come off as a smart intellectual. All the while, the girls end up nearly losing their sorority house without proper pledges. In the end, Shelley and the girls realize that the sorority should be about accepting those who are different and those who want to uplift one another instead of bashing each other based on looks and popularity. The overall acceptance and appreciation of one another thrust the sorority into high demand, and they can keep going. In the end, Shelley realizes she can be herself and be enough for others, and she wants more than just a shallow playboy lifestyle. Her acceptance and ability to instill confidence in the young women gave her a sense of purpose.
Mean Girls is all about females; in fact, the film focuses mostly on five girls’ imparticular power and reign over a school. Cady Heron was a home-schooled girl who lived in Africa for much of her life. When she is sent to public school, she makes friends with Janis and Damian, who are considered outcasts. When Cady is invited to sit with Regina George and her friends, Janis suggests that Cady should spy on the Plastics, specifically Regina George. While Janis and Damian’s plan sabotages against the plastics, Cady is sucked into the popular lifestyle of the plastics. She begins dressing and talking like them. Eventually, Cady does whatever she can to obtain Reginas on-again-off-again boyfriend Aaron Samuels and becomes nearly a clone of Regina’s. Much to Cady’s surprise, Aaron is not thrilled over Cady’s transformation and opts to not see her. Regina spreads her burn book around the school, making it seem like the girls and Cady wrote it, creating utter chaos amongst the junior girls. Eventually, Cady has to fix herself and her choices and make right by all the wrongdoing she has made throughout the film. In the end, the film shows that everyone can fit into the group they are most comfortable with and do not need to rule the school, be popular, or cause harm to others. The overall theme of self-acceptance and acceptance of others shines at the end of the film, and it is more inspiring to see women lifting each other up rather than tearing each other down.
These are the movies with strong female roles that we absolutely love! Strong female roles do not have to be about kicking ass, it can be about the strength that we as women possess inside both in soul and in our minds. Sure, we can use our bodies for strength as well, but we are more than that. We are badasses by nature, but when our roles encourage and inspire others to be more, do more, and achieve greatness, then that is also a role we honor and find worth celebrating. There is a time for kickass fighting moves and physical strength, but there is also a time to celebrate all the things that make us women wonderful and unique.
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I am a writer, artist, mother, and wife. I am from California but currently reside in Arizona. I have a BA in English with a concentration in writing. I have a certificate in SEO through Universal Class. I love music, art, writing, pop culture, gaming, anime, and Disney.