In recent years, many female celebrities have used their platforms to empower others. From activists to actresses, singers to writers, these influential women have broken barriers, inspired millions, and redefined the narrative surrounding aging in the entertainment industry. Here’s a look at 15 of the most empowering female celebrities over 30.
1. Oprah Winfrey
From her humble beginnings to her global influence, Oprah’s story epitomizes the American dream. With “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” she created a safe space for discussions on critical issues, from mental health to racial inequality. Her OWN network and O Magazine further her mission, and her philanthropic efforts, like the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, make lasting impacts.
2. Michelle Obama
Michelle’s tenure as First Lady saw the launch of the “Let’s Move!” campaign to combat childhood obesity. Her memoir, “Becoming,” provided an intimate look into her life, with powerful reflections on womanhood, race, and public service. She continues to work on educational initiatives like the “Reach Higher” program, inspiring young people to pursue higher education.
Beyond her sensational music career, Beyoncé launched the “BeyGOOD” initiative which aids in employment, education, and disaster relief. Her visual album, “Lemonade,” addressed themes of black womanhood, infidelity, and resilience, becoming a cultural touchstone.
4. Viola Davis
Viola Davis, with her groundbreaking acting prowess, has cemented her place in Hollywood’s Hall of Fame. Notably, she’s the first black actress to win the esteemed Triple Crown of Acting: an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony. But her influence doesn’t stop there.
Viola uses her platform to spotlight Hollywood’s racial and gender pay disparities, advocating for equal pay for women of color. She also plays an active role in the Hunger Is campaign, which aims to eradicate childhood hunger across America, demonstrating her commitment to social change both on and off the screen.
5. Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon is more than just an Academy Award-winning actress; she’s a catalyst for change in the entertainment industry. With her production company, Hello Sunshine, Reese has made it her mission to tell female-centric stories, challenging Hollywood’s gender biases.
Notably, she championed pay equality for her female co-stars in “Big Little Lies.” Beyond film, Reese’s book club has become a potent platform, spotlighting female authors and promoting a culture of reading. Her multifaceted approach to advocacy underscores her dedication to elevating women’s voices.
6. Malala Yousafzai
From surviving a Taliban assassination attempt at just 15 to becoming the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai’s story is nothing short of inspirational. Her autobiography, “I Am Malala,” chronicles her brave advocacy for girls’ education in Pakistan under extremist threats.
Malala’s unwavering commitment to female education has given her a global platform, from which she continues to champion the rights of girls everywhere. Through the Malala Fund, she works tirelessly to ensure every girl can access 12 years of free, safe, quality education.
7. Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay stands as a paragon of excellence in filmmaking. Her poignant films, including “Selma” and the critically acclaimed series “When They See Us,” provide crucial insights into Black history and America’s justice system. Ava became the first black female director to have her film nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.
Beyond her cinematic achievements, she’s a passionate advocate for racial justice and representation in the arts. With ARRAY, her distribution company, Ava amplifies marginalized voices, ensuring diverse stories find their rightful place in the spotlight.
8. Serena Williams
Serena Williams, often hailed as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, has a trophy cabinet boasting 23 Grand Slam titles. Her athleticism, however, is just one facet of her influence. Serena has consistently challenged stereotypes around female athletes, addressing issues from body positivity to the challenges of motherhood.
After sharing her harrowing childbirth experience, she’s become an advocate for better healthcare for black women, highlighting racial disparities in maternal health. Off the court, Serena’s fashion ventures and philanthropic endeavors further her mission of empowerment.
9. J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling, the mastermind behind the beloved “Harry Potter” series, has enchanted readers across generations. But her impact extends far beyond the Wizarding World. Rowling’s personal story, from struggling single mother to one of the world’s best-selling authors, serves as a testament to resilience and determination. She founded Lumos, a charity aiming to end child institutionalization globally.
Additionally, her charitable trust, Volant, supports a plethora of causes, from multiple sclerosis research to alleviating social deprivation, exemplifying Rowling’s broad spectrum of humanitarian efforts.
10. Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Priyanka Chopra Jonas, once crowned Miss World, has transitioned from Bollywood royalty to a global entertainment sensation. Her performances in both Hindi cinema and Hollywood have garnered widespread acclaim, making her a cross-cultural icon. Beyond acting, Priyanka is deeply committed to social issues.
As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, she advocates for children’s rights, especially in crisis situations. Back in India, her voice resonates as she champions environmental sustainability, gender equality, and campaigns against gender-based violence. Her ability to bridge cultural divides, combined with her philanthropic endeavors, makes her a force of empowerment on the global stage.
11. Ellen DeGeneres
Ellen DeGeneres, with her distinctive humor and warmth, has been a daytime TV staple for decades. She courageously broke barriers by coming out on national television in 1997, paving the way for greater LGBTQ+ representation in mainstream media. Ellen’s show has consistently been a platform for inspiration, kindness, and philanthropy, gifting millions to deserving individuals and causes.
The Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund further exemplifies her commitment to global conservation efforts. Through her personal journey and her show, Ellen has become synonymous with authenticity, acceptance, and generosity.
12. Alicia Keys
The multi-Grammy-winning artist Alicia Keys is as well-known for her soul-stirring music as she is for her activism. Songs like “Girl on Fire” and “Superwoman” have become anthems of empowerment for many. Off-stage, she’s the co-founder of “Keep a Child Alive,” an organization offering support to HIV-affected families.
Alicia has also been a staunch advocate for natural beauty and self-acceptance, famously going makeup-free in many public appearances. Through her art and activism, she spreads a message of self-worth, identity, and challenging societal beauty norms.
13. Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling is a multifaceted talent: writer, producer, actress, and comedian. Her groundbreaking series, “The Mindy Project,” not only entertained but challenged racial and body type stereotypes on-screen. As a woman of color in Hollywood, Mindy’s narratives bring much-needed diversity and representation. She’s candid about the challenges and biases she’s faced, providing insights and inspiration for many in the industry.
Her book, “Why Not Me?” offers a humorous yet thoughtful exploration of womanhood, identity, and ambition, further establishing her as a voice of empowerment.
14. Tarana Burke
Tarana Burke’s impact on global conversations around sexual assault is monumental. Launching the #MeToo movement in 2006, she provided a platform for survivors to share their stories and seek justice. While the movement gained worldwide attention in 2017, Tarana had been laying the groundwork for years, focusing on helping marginalized communities, especially young women of color.
Her unwavering commitment ensures that voices often unheard get the spotlight, leading to systemic change and providing support to countless survivors.
15. Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett, the two-time Oscar-winning actress, has enthralled audiences with her captivating performances. Beyond the silver screen, she dedicates herself to humanitarian causes. As a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Cate tirelessly advocates for refugees, amplifying the stories of the world’s most vulnerable.
She consistently uses her platform to discuss climate change, gender equality, and the global refugee crisis. Through her films and activism, Cate merges the worlds of art and advocacy, showcasing how entertainment can lead to enlightenment and action.