It’s International Women’s Day, so in honor of this day celebrating girl-power and badass women doing amazing things, I wanted to highlight the women who have inspired me. While I thought about doing a post highlighting some of my favorites from movies, books, and television, I decided instead to focus on those real-life women who inspired me as a writer. These are the women that gave me courage, made me feel empowered, and made me feel like my goals were achievable. Our world wouldn’t be the same without these women, and I know several of you likely feel the same way.
Felicia is such a huge inspiration to me. She blazed her own trail, opting to make her hugely popular webseries, The Guild, on her own when she couldn’t a network interested. She’s created her own website, her own brand, and she gave us all permission to embrace our inner weird and to be unabashedly ourselves. She’s also legitimately kind. She can sit at a book signing for hours, and make everyone feel like they’re the first person she’s interacted with all day–I got to experience this firsthand. All the while, Felicia is battling crippling anxiety, and isn’t embarrassed about it. She’s helped me feel empowered to blaze my own trail, start something based on my passions, and to not feel embarrassed about my mental health struggles.
Do you ever read or watch something, and it’s so good that you get almost annoyed that you didn’t write it yourself? That is how I feel when I watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. It’s that perfect blend of self-deprecating humor, feminism, messed up, dark humor, dumb humor, and ~*~showtunes~*~ that speaks to a very specific part of me that I didn’t think anyone else had. Rachel wrote a show that is real about mental illness, it doesn’t shy away from making its heroine strong and likeable yet DEEPLY flawed, and it portrays women in a real and hilarious way. I’m a latecomer to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but I’m so glad to have found something that speaks to my sense of humor so specifically. She inspires me to write stuff that truly makes me laugh, and she inspires me to be true to myself while owning my shit (even if that comes from writing a hyperbolic version of myself where she admits how messed up she is).
Mindy Kaling inspired me to embrace all parts of myself, and to not be just one thing. She’s girly, she’s sarcastic, she’s hilarious, she’s smart, she’s creative, she’s quick to acknowledge her shortcomings, but she’s confident (or at least appears confident) in her strengths. She hustled her ass off to write Matt and Ben, to write for The Office, get her own show, and she writes the most hilarious and relatable books ever. She inspires me to be a better writer and a better businesswoman.
Tina Fey doesn’t just inspire me to be a better writer, but she also inspires me to lean in to my quirks. She’s self-deprecating, she shined one of the best (and most accurate) lights on my kind of introversion, and the fact that the idea of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt came from her brain makes her my kind of twisted. Tina Fey was one of the first women to show me that women can be really, really funny, and that they can write stuff that will make you cry laughing, and they can do it all while rockin’ a Snuggie, snacking on some Night Cheese. She was the original person to inspire me to be myself in my writing, and let myself be real, at least in the stuff I wrote.
Carrie Fisher. She was the first. I knew Leia Organa long before I really knew anything about Carrie Fisher. Through Leia, she taught me about being strong and being brave (I wrote all about this at Nerdist, so I won’t rehash it here). However, as I grew up and saw her in other roles like the furious jilted lover in Blues Brothers, and as I learned about her as a person, her own struggles with addiction and mental illness, I saw her more as an IRL-embodiment of that princess from Alderaan that first inspired me as a little girl. Fisher was honest, brutally honest, and she was never afraid to use her mistakes to help teach others. She was vocal about her mental health, and made other people–me included–not only feel safe to share their struggles, but made us feel empowered. After all, if Princess freaking Leia could still be amazing while having to fight with her own brain, so could we, right? But she wasn’t just an advocate and an actor. She also wrote–and she wrote amazingly well. She has that dark sense of humor I love, and she is able to effortlessly make you laugh and make you think all at the same time. Plus, she was an unabashed crazy dog lady. Carrie Fisher has been a constant, ever-evolving source of inspiration for me since I first met her watching Star Wars as a little girl. She inspires me to be creative, to be bold, to be honest, to be funny, and to be strong.
Who are some the women who have inspired you? Tell me in the comments, and be sure to tell THEM! Happy International Women’s Day!