Emma Watson is perhaps the most well-known face of feminism in 2017, and there's a good reason for that: She's a UN Goodwill Ambassador and the founder of the HeForShe gender equality campaign (with the aim to unite men and women and work towards eliminating inequality). We also love her for her outspoken thoughts, with one of her more memorable quotes being, "The saddest thing for a girl to do is to dumb herself down for a guy."
There's no denying that she's a fantastic role model, but Watson is not the only celeb who is doing good work and raising awareness for the feminist movement. Below are 15 empowering actresses (other than Emma Watson) who are inspiring women, and men, to call themselves feminists.
15 Miley Cyrus
Yes, Miley Cyrus has made it onto our list. She is a feminist role model for many reasons: She embraces her sexuality and makes no apologies for it, she does what she wants - when she wants (according to Babe, her album Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz was released for free on SoundCloud, and her label didn't know about it until it was completed), and she's willing to speak out about women's issues.
During an interview with BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat, she famously stated, "I feel like I'm one of the biggest feminists in the world because I tell women to not be scared of anything." Adding, "I'm for anybody and anything, I don't care what you want to do, what you want to look like…" Miley Cyrus may have done some odd things in the past, but she's right about this.
14 Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie is an award-winning actress, a mother, and also the recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian award. For years she has focused on her humanitarian work, including working with UNICEF, Yéle Haiti Foundation, Women in the World Foundation, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, and Care to Learn. She uses her platform as a means of educating people and spreading awareness about what is happening in the world (including the crimes against women), and if anyone deserves a spot on our feminist role model list, it is undoubtedly her.
One of her more memorable quotes happened in 2003 when she gave an interview to Cosmopolitan magazine about the importance of being true to oneself.
"Figure out who you are separate from your family and the man or woman you're in a relationship with," she said. "Find who you are in this world and what you need to feel good alone. I think that's the most important thing in life. Find a sense of self because with that, you can do anything else."
13 Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling is funny, smart, confident, and she's exactly the role model that women need. Her accolades are seemingly endless and her humor is witty — but she's also willing to tackle more serious topics; like women's rights.
She previously shed light on the importance of being a feminist when, according to E! News, she said, "Here's my feeling: For everyone, men and women, it's important to be a feminist. It's important to have female characters..." Kaling then went on to explain that women should mentor other women, but also men, and vice-versa. And that when she finds a writer's assistant she always tries to encourage them to think with a feminist perspective.
Aside from these reasons, you have to respect Kaling for her zero f*cks attitude and the fact that she is unapologetic for the way that she lives her life.
12 Ellen Page
It's strange that the feminism movement still scares so many people. This is mostly because of the miscommunication surrounding it, something which Ellen Page (who is not only a successful actress, but also one of the LGBT community's icons) has been working to change.
She's a proud feminist, and proof that there is no reason for feminism to be a dirty word. During an interview with The Washington Post back in 2008, she urged people not to be reluctant to identify as feminists because it's all about equality. In fact, this is one of the reasons why she hopes everyone is a feminist.
"You know you're working in a patriarchal society when the word feminist has a weird connotation," she added. And it really makes you think, doesn't it?
11 Emma Thompson
British actress Emma Thompson has enjoyed great success in the entertainment industry, and her career shows no signs of slowing down. But Thompson also uses her fame as a platform to speak her mind, and one of the most important topics she has to talk about is feminism.
She's a firm believer in equal rights for women, and she's not afraid to use the term "feminist." She actually thinks women should be embracing this term, instead of shying away from it.
Speaking during an interview with Vulture, she mentioned how at the age of 19, she was a "card-carrying, radical feminist." She continued spreading her truth by saying "Most women who I would want to listen to wouldn’t have any problem at all with the word feminist. It’s bizarre. Any woman who says they’re not a feminist is basically saying that they don’t believe in equal rights for women.”
10 Lena Dunham
Perhaps one of the most recognizable faces when it comes to the face of modern feminism is Lena Dunham, and her outspoken views on the subject have endeared us. Dunham makes no secret of the fact that she is a proud feminist, and she hates when women don't want to identify with the term.
Speaking during an interview with Metro, she said, "Women saying 'I'm not a feminist' is my greatest pet peeve. Do you believe that women should be paid the same for doing the same jobs? Do you believe that women should be allowed to leave the house? Do you think that women and men both deserve equal rights? Great, then you're a feminist." As bold as Lena is, she has a big point. Many women and men are scared to even say the word feminist because it SOMEHOW is connected to a very radical and negative connotation. On the contrary, though, it's actually more positive.
9 Viola Davis
Actress Viola Davis is brilliant, but she also has a true rags to riches story and every time she speaks — she commands attention. It's impossible not to be inspired by Davis, but this was made particularly easy during her Critics Choice Awards speech in December of 2016 when she delivered a powerful message.
In her speech she touched on a number of important topics like how it's hard to be a role model in the entertainment industry when they are constantly being pressured to adhere to a certain image (body shaming is still so prevalent). But despite this, she believes that true power comes from being yourself — a message all women should hear.
"I truly believe that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are," she said during her speech, adding that it took her 51 years to embrace this.
8 Natalie Dormer
Natalie Dormer may be best known for her role as Margaery Tyrell in the hit HBO TV series, Game of Thrones, but she's also a feminist icon. It's important to have a role model like Dormer get the message across to the younger generation, many of whom think of feminism as an outdated concept.
This is a topic that Dormer has been vocal about for a long time, and in 2014 she gave a memorable interview to the Daily Beast, in which she discussed how feminism is often linked to a sense of female superiority. Although that couldn't be further from the truth, because, as she so simply but eloquently stated, "It just means liberation, and equality."
We need people like Dormer who are helping create change by altering the old opinions about what "equality" means.
7 Patricia Arquette
What says feminist more than a strong independent woman who is calling for women to take action? Patricia Arquette is an inspiration, and she's also an advocate for equal rights.
During her Oscars acceptance speech for best supporting actress in 2015, she gave an empowering speech focusing on the wage inequality in The United States (but it happens all over the world).
She said, "To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else's equal rights. It is our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!"
Her speech received loud applause from the audience (including Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence) and for good reason. Equal pay for men and women remains a problem not just in Hollywood, but around the world, and it's something that we all need to be made aware of in order to combat the injustice.
Thank you, Patricia!
6 Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian is a feminist, even if she doesn't like the word. Many people tend to argue this point and feel that she is not deserving of admiration, mostly because of how she became a star in the first place. However, the reason we respectfully disagree is because Miss Kardashian West has a lot more to offer than a former sex tape and a reality TV show. It's time she should be given more credit.
She is independent, business savvy, a marketing guru (she's markets herself, and has created a brand around it), and most importantly, she's unashamed of her body. In fact, she uses it to her advantage. She's had several very profitable ventures and in 2016 she came in at No. 42 on Forbes' Celebrity 100 list.
In a society that in 2017 still makes women feel ashamed of their bodies and their sexuality, Kim Kardashian is breaking down those barriers and proving that it's okay to be exactly who you're meant to be. You go, girl!
5 Emily Blunt
Emily Blunt is straight-talking, passionate, and she's tackled topics like sexism and gender inequality. She stands up for what she believes in, and this is one of the reasons that makes her so wonderful!
In 2015 it was rumored that the Cannes Film Festival had decided to enforce a rule that ACTUALLY banned women who were not wearing heels from their screenings... And Blunt was one of the biggest critics of this rule (although the festival organizers stated that those claims about women were untrue).
According to Daily Mail, Blunt claimed that women should be able to wear whatever shoes they wanted, adding, "You kind of think that there's these new waves of equality and waves of people realizing that women are just as fascinating and interesting to watch, and bankable." She fights hard against the way women are viewed (often as a piece of arm candy) and we can't help but celebrate her for this.
4 Kerry Washington
There's a lot to love about Kerry Washington — not as though you needed another reason to love her, of course. But she is a proud feminist and does not shy away from the term.
This is important, because there are so many misconceptions surrounding feminism, and Washington was happy to clear some up during an interview with Marianne Schnall for the publication Feminist. She said, "I do consider myself a feminist. I mean, I love that definition, that it's the whole belief that women are human beings and deserve equal rights, equal access."
She later expanded on these thoughts and expressed how she loved feminism, adding that being a feminist is a "great thing to be" even if it's not always easy "because it's not the hegemonic ideology – it's not. It takes remembering."
3 Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler is much more than a talented comedian, because while she may broach topics with humor, she has also proven that she is unafraid to share her opinion on things that really matter.
We could compile a book on the interesting and inspiring things that she has said during interviews, but one that really stands out is from her non-fiction essay collection entitled, Yes Please. She said, "It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for. It takes years to find your voice..." Wow, powerful.
Poehler encourages women to be who they are meant to be, and for this, we love her. She also urges women to focus on their similarities rather than their differences, because this only serves to further drive us apart, when we should be supporting one another.
2 Claire Danes
Claire Danes is a big fan of Lena Dunham's approach to feminism and during an interview with Glamour magazine she celebrated her fellow actress for being so vocal about the topic.
She said, "I am a feminist. And I'm so glad that Lena Dunham exists, because she is one too, and she's quite vocal about it. Yes, women have more freedom and more influence than ever, but it's hardly equal. It's just not. It's really f***ing crazy. I'm sorry I'm cursing. But it's wild that women are underrepresented..."
While Danes' quote may focus on women in the entertainment industry, the inequality between men and women and the underrepresentation of women is something that is not limited to Hollywood. It's an important topic and serves as a reminder for women to band together and fight for equal rights and equal pay.
1 Jennifer Lawrence
Some actresses like Shailene Woodley and Katy Perry don't identify as feminists, while others like Meryl Streep claim to be humanists, but Jennifer Lawrence has a different message: we should all be feminists. She even wore a shirt stating as much for the Fall 2017 Dior campaign.
Lawrence has discussed gender imbalance and the wage gap (and she's reportedly even hosted a dinner to discuss inequality), so it's clear that feminism is something that she is incredibly passionate about. We first got a glimpse into the workings of Lawrence's mind a year ago, when she penned a Lenny Letter essay for Lena Dunham's blog.
In it, she discussed why she had been relatively quiet about feminism up until that point. She opened up about the double-standards for men and women — something she herself experienced firsthand after giving her opinion to a man she was working with and he reacted in a way that suggested she had said something offensive.
"All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive," she explained. Later revealing that as a woman, she has so often had to hold back on what she wanted to say for fear of being seen as a "spoiled brat," something which she struggles to imagine being said about a man in the same situation.
Jennifer Lawrence is willing to give her own personal recounts in order to spread awareness about just how unbalanced our society still is, and that's really great!