There's nothing twentysomething women love more than badass, influential women in Hollywood who tackle everything from body image to sexuality, finding a way to enlighten us on the important issues. We’re counting down the 11 most influential women in Hollywood who give all twentysomethings something to applaud and look up to.
11. Emma Watson
We practically grew up with the girl and her endearing role as the ultimate kickass magical nerd, Hermione Granger, and we love her even more for the ultimate kickass Hollywood woman she has become. Perhaps one of the most recognized movie stars ever, Watson remains among the most humble. After Harry Potter, she decided to lay low and get a super incredible college education at Brown University. And, even with all of her fame, she stays down to earth and keeps it real as she branches out into newer, more challenging roles in Hollywood while pushing young women to do whatever it is they dream to do.
10. Lauren Conrad
This girl is perhaps the most noble ex-reality-television star ever. After becoming famous for the most dramatic display of California teenage life and relationship problems on Laguna Beach and The Hills, Conrad took a more sophisticated road and built her own realm of fashion. She has eight published books, two fashion lines and a well-known website.
In October, she introduced her newest project focusing on – yep, you guessed it – women. The Little Market, which she started with her friend Hannah Taylor Skvarla, sells fair-trade products made by artisan groups that employ women. The two came up with the idea as a way to combine two things they love—hunting for unique items and supporting the women who make them.
Conrad empowers every twentysomething by offering her famous advice on friendships and relationships and providing a solid example of building success at a young age.
9. Demi Lovato
After a highly publicized meltdown in 2010, Lovato has become an advocate against self-harm for girls all over the world. After completing rehab, she opened up to the public about her private battle with anorexia, bulimia, bipolar disorder and self-harm. To help promote awareness and help girls with similar struggles, she collaborated with Seventeen magazine to promote the "Love is Louder" campaign. The campaign was started by The Jed Foundation, MTV and Brittany Snow to support anyone feeling mistreated, misunderstood or alone. Lovato teamed up with the movement when she went public with her struggles.
The singer, songwriter and actress remains an open book about her road to recovery and has brought undoubted awareness to important mental health topics within the female community.
8. Ellen Page
We already loved the 27-year-old eccentric actress thanks to her memorable role in Juno, but she gave us even more of a reason to look up to her when she came out as gay at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Time to THRIVE Conference in February. The pint-sized Canadian actress made an honest and emotional speech to the crowd, moving many – including herself – to tears. In her speech, she spoke candidly about what she has learned about love through her sexuality, saying:
“What I have learned is that love—the beauty of it, the joy of it, and yes, even the pain of it—is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being. And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise. There are too many kids out there suffering from bullying, rejection or simply being mistreated because of who they are. Too many dropouts. Too much abuse. Too many homeless. Too many suicides. You can change that, and you are changing it."
Her deep compassion for human rights not only proves Page to be intelligent and empathetic, but also proves her to be someone women – no matter their sexual orientation – can look up to.
7. Mindy Kaling
What we love most about this hilarious comedic genius is her honest ability to discuss the fact that she's a woman and racial minority in an industry notoriously dominated by white men. But she doesn’t stop there. Kaling makes a powerful statement about body image in the entertainment industry by going against narrow beauty standards.
Kaling shared her body-image wisdom with Parade magazine in September, telling Shawna Malcom that she refuses to let expectations about what women in Hollywood should look like affect her sense of self-worth. She told the interviewer:
"I always get asked, 'Where do you get your confidence?' I think people are well-meaning, but it's pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is, 'You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalized person. You're not skinny, you're not white, you're a woman. Why on earth would you feel like you're worth anything?'"
Later, in a March interview with Vogue, the writer and actress spoke about how she handles body insecurity and the pressure to be thin, especially as a woman in Hollywood. She told interviewer Sandra Ballentine she doesn't want to be skinny, but instead wants to focus on self-improvement.
Between her hit show, The Mindy Project, and her bestselling memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), she proves to women that intelligence and humor are the true things that define real beauty.
6. Jennifer Lawrence
It was the quote heard ‘round the world: “It should be illegal to call somebody fat.” In a December 2013 interview with Barbra Walters, the witty and sarcastic Hunger Games star spoke about the harsh realities and pressures for women in today's society. She has begun a new body image crusade across Hollywood, forever changing the way females both perceive themselves and the women they admire. In fact, the star revealed in a November 2013 interview with Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer that she did not want to lose weight for her role as Katniss Everdeen because she feared the message it would send to the young female audience.
Not only does she say what she thinks, but she says what everybody else is thinking, too. Is there anybody in this world who doesn’t love JLaw?
5. Lena Dunham
Unless you live under a rock, you've definitely heard about (or religiously watched) HBO’s Girls in all of its unmasked and controversial glory. Not only does Dunham star as the lead character, Hannah Horvath, a quirky and confused twentysomething navigating New York City, but she also writes and produces the award-winning series. She shies away from mainstream twentysomething television comedy topics and focuses on real, more daring topics with incredible depth and humor.
Her intelligence is uncanny, and she has created a show women can actually relate to and learn something from. USA Todaynoted, "Dunham is clearly a talent to be reckoned with."
4. Shailene Woodley
The 22-year-old Divergent actress has been candid about her thoughts on feminism, especially concerning women in Hollywood. What’s most important about Woodley’s strong opinions is her confidence in saying what needs to be said. She takes an inspiring angle on the whole feminism quarrel and breaks it down to what is really important: women finding power by learning how to respect and support ourselves and one another. In an interview with TIME magazine, Woodley said:
“My biggest thing is really sisterhood more than feminism. I don’t know how we as women expect men to respect us because we don’t even seem to respect each other. There’s so much jealousy, so much comparison and envy. And 'This girl did this to me and that girl did that to me.' And it’s just so silly and heartbreaking in a way.”
On top of being an advocate for lady power, Woodley is also passionate about living a very natural lifestyle. Instead of letting the limelight turn her into a diva, she stays super chill; she even confessed in an interview with People magazine that she refuses to wear anything but used clothing unless it's for work.
As if we don’t already love her enough, Woodley also keeps us engrossed with her outspoken thoughts on taboo topics such as the female body and all things sex. Check out our favorite quotes from the actress!
3. Beyoncé Knowles
She’s not bossy; she’s the boss. We don’t have to even say it, because TIME magazine already did: Beyoncé graced the cover of the magazine after she landed a spot on the 100 Most Influential People list. She has completely redefined the music industry when it comes to the power of women, declaring that girls run the world. We can’t argue with that, can we?
Even Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, an activist for women herself, commended Beyoncé for her well-earned spot:
“Beyonce doesn’t just sit at the table. She builds a better one. Her secret: hard work, honesty and authenticity. And her answer to the question, ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ appears to be ‘Watch me. I’m about to do it.’ Then she adds, 'You can, too.'"
2. Laverne Cox
The African-American transgender actress has moved mountains in Hollywood with her advocacy for the transgender community. The LGBTQ advocate is best known for her racy role in the popular Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, for which her character, Sophia Burset, was named TIME magazine’s fourth Most Influential Fictional Character of 2013.
She has spread the empowering message of moving beyond gender expectations to live more authentically, and her insights have gained major attention as she has tackled many firsts in the transgender community.
Cox is the first trans woman of color to produce and star in her own television show, VH1's TRANSForm Me, which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. Cox is also the first trans woman of color to appear on an American reality television program, for which she accepted the GLAAD Award for Outstanding Reality Program. Another huge first? Cox was the first transgender individual on the cover of TIME magazine for the June 9, 2014 issue.
Her honesty and confidence in her gender identity has helped challenge us to move past gender expectations.
1. Lupita Nyong’o
In just one year, Lupita Nyong’o has made a place for herself in Hollywood as an influential and honorable role model for girls and women of all ages. Not only did she snag an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 12 Years a Slave, but she was also honored with the Best Breakthrough Performance Award at the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood 7th Annual Luncheon.
As she accepted her award at the luncheon, she read a letter from a young African-American girl who said she prayed for lighter skin until she saw Nyong'o on her television screen. The actress made a moving speech that touched on the narrow beauty standards women live by today, addressing the young girl who wrote the letter:
“I hope that my presence on your screens and in magazines will lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty, but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shade in that beauty.”
The actress is also the very first black female brand ambassador for French cosmetic company Lancôme. She has become a fresh reminder to every woman of every age about where the true standards of beauty lie.