Get Lifted: Women who inspire us to be more in 2018

Chasing your dreams can be daunting, no matter that you wrote them down as part of your goals for the new year. New challenges and possible rejection are only few of the things that can make one anxious, but the good news is, there are others who have gone ahead of us, who have blazed trails and whose lights shine bright enough for us to follow. Here are some of the women who inspire us to be go-getters in 2018.

1. Ava Duvernay

Hers is fast becoming a household name and is synonymous with great movies, and she has tons of accolades and awards to show for all the hard work. Ava started as a journalist, then went on to start her own public relations agency, and eventually ventured into filmmaking.  She is the founder of the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM). Her feature films have earned her many landmark awards: First African-American woman to receive the Best Director prize at Sundance Film Festival, the second black woman to be invited to the directors’ branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award. She has been nominated for and won many other awards. A film director, producer, screenwriter, film marketer and distributor, Ava has films like Selma, 13th, and the forthcoming A Wrinkle in Time to her credit.  She reminds us of the power of women to set records, break ceilings, and carve paths where none previously existed. 

Photo of Ava Duvernay

2. Yara Shahidi 

Actress, model, and activist, Yara is an incredibly smart young woman who continues to lend her voice to noble causes. One needs only to watch her interviews, listen to her speeches, and read her statements to realize that she is one of the brightest minds of her generation. Apart from featuring in Blackish and Grownish, the 17-year-old recently got a chance to direct her own short film, which we hope to see soon. With so much achieved already, and college (Havard) on the horizon, we can’t wait to see what 2018 holds for Yara.

Photo of Yara Shahidi

3. Serena Williams 

... Or as we like to call her, the greatest female tennis player of all time. Serena has so many titles, records, and wins that we won’t even attempt to list them, but she did not start out winning. She started playing tennis professionally in 1995, and lost several times in several games, but she didn’t give up. She suffered injuries and had to sit out games, but she came back more determined each time. By the year 2001, she was world number six and in 2002, she was ranked world number one for the first time. After this, she suffered more injuries and setbacks and in the year 2006 ranked as low as world number 139. She suffered depression and was harshly criticized, but that didn’t deter her; she found her way back to the top. In 2017, Williams played in a tournament eight weeks pregnant and won her 23rd Grand Slam title; is there anything this woman can’t do? 

Photo of Serena Williams

4. Blair Brettshneider 

This 28-year old got inspired to start GirlForward, an organization that provides mentorship, education, and learning opportunities for refugee girls, after she mentored a 15-year old refugee back in 2010, when she worked at a refugee resettlement agency.  GirlForward focuses on one-on-one mentoring, after-school tutoring, and a 6-week camp experience called Camp GirlForward. Their mission is to aid young girls in resettling into the United States by helping them overcome barriers, such as language, that stand in the way of their integration. They are also taught skills needed to become independent and productive members of the society. GirlForward plans to expand in the coming year and make more resources available to the mentors and the girls. With her compassion, drive, and vision, Blair inspires us to be more.

Photo of Blair Brettshneider

5. Emma Roberts

You may know this actor from American Horror Story and Scream Queens, but her latest venture is making people fall in love with and celebrate books. With her friend, writer and producer Karah Preiss, Emma founded Belletrist in 2017. The book club, which is online, is a space where women can “feel confident and empowered” and connect with a community of people who love similar things. And what’s more, Belletrist showcases books by female authors and interactions with them. We love women with a purpose!

Photo of Emma Roberts

6. Angelina Jolie 

The top actor’s humanitarian efforts have earned her recognition and honours. She has adopted children from different countries and is a goodwill ambassador for UNHCR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). She visits refugee camps around the world and not only donates funds to them, but also raises awareness about conditions in these camps.  She was promoted to the position of Special Envoy to the UNHCR, the first person to occupy the position. Her humanitarian work includes: conservation and community development, child immigration and education, human rights and women’s rights. Regardless of personal challenges and in addition to career expansion moves, Jolie continues to spread goodwill all around the world. 

Photo of Angelina Jolie

7. Sara Blakely

She used to sell fax machines from door to door. One day, she was preparing to attend a party and couldn’t find appropriate underwear for her white pants; that was the beginning of the Spanx empire. She invested money and time in the development of her product, and she believed in herself when no one else did. She pitched the idea to many people, but only one person was willing to take a bet on her. Spanx supposedly made $4 million in profit in the first year! Today, her products are sold in more than 50 countries in the world, but that’s not all. Named the youngest self-made billionaire in the world by Forbes, Sarah Blakely has committed to giving more than half of her wealth to charitable causes!

Photo of Sara Blakely

8. Oprah Winfrey

Did you know that Oprah’s birth name is Orpah? Her story is one of a kind, and is inspiring in more ways than one. She overcame a difficult childhood to become one of the most popular people on the planet, and the richest self-made woman in America. She is an actor, producer, media owner, talk show host, and everything in between. This year, she became the first African-American woman to receive the Cecile B. DeMille award, an honorary Golden Globe award given for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment. Oprah has it all, but she does not stop; she keeps breaking new grounds and lending helping hands to those in need. And that Golden Globe Award speech? It was something wonderful. 

Photo of Oprah Winfrey

9. You

Yes, you. You are beautiful, strong, loud, and powerful enough to cause a shift. There is no mountain you cannot overcome. The world is waiting for your dream to come to fruition, for your idea to blossom. You have all that it takes to be all you can be and we just know you are destined for greatness!