10 Inspirational Women in the Media Industry

When it comes to gender expectations, the sphere of media is no longer a man’s world. A study of the 250 top-grossing domestic films since 1998 found that the number of female credits has increased to 24% in 2022. However, these statistics still show that we have some way to go in the fight to show that women belong. Many influential women in media are working to force a paradigm shift; this women’s history month, let’s pay tribute to these strong women shaking up the media world. 

Oprah Winfrey

Source: Mansion Global

Oprah Winfrey is one of the highest-earning women in worldwide media. From the very beginning, Oprah was destined for amazing things. She was the first black woman to anchor a nightly news program in Nashville at the age of 19 while in college.

Best known for Emmy-winning juggernaut The Oprah Winfrey Show, she currently boasts a massive net worth of over $1 billion. Oprah also chairs an expansive media empire: she has several successful magazines (O, O at Home, and The Oprah Magazine), fronts a hit XM satellite radio show, and even co-founded cable channel Oxygen Media. 

However, Oprah’s greatest achievement is her ability to influence American culture. If a book is featured in her Book Club, it will sell over eight times as many copies as before she endorsed it. There’s a reason why The American Spectator called her “the most influential woman in the world.”

We’ll end with one of Oprah’s most inspiring quotes:

“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you – always.”

Ellen DeGeneres

Source: E! Online

You can’t discuss inspirational women’s history month without talking about Ellen. Ellen DeGeneres has brought laughter and joy to millions of people around the world. Her record-breaking Ellen DeGeneres Show has run for over 1000 episodes and won an incredible 25 Emmy awards her inspirational media success, Ellen has always used her platform to advocate for the causes she believes in, like the women’s rights movement and LGBTQ inclusion.

Before she became the face of daytime TV, DeGeneres was a pioneering woman in media for other reasons. Her sitcom Ellen was one of the first American shows to provide a positive representation of lesbian women. With just three short words – “Susan, I’m gay” – Ellen inspired a whole generation of lesbians to be their authentic selves. She paved the way for iconic women like Samantha Bee, Rachel Maddow, and Rebel Wilson.

Shonda Rhimes

Source: Shondaland

Shonda Rhimes is one of the most powerful black women in American media, and a powerhouse in the industry. This women’s history month, we wanted to celebrate strong women, so of course, she has to make the list. She is the creator of some of the most popular and successful shows on TV.

Every aspect of Rhimes’ career has involved helping women achieve power, specifically empowering women of color. World-class black actresses like Kerry Washington and Viola Davis front her biggest shows.

All of Shonda Rhimes’ shows have been created through her own woman-led production company, Shondaland. She could platform even more female and black woman-fronted hits, like Bridgerton and Inventing Anna by pivoting into production. Even off-screen, Rhimes works tirelessly to promote women’s rights in media, co-founding and founding the Time’s Up campaign. 

Ava DuVernay

Source: The Guardian

While only 30% of American film directors are BIPOC, an even smaller percentage are black and female. Ava DuVernay is bucking this trend. As an award-winning writer, director, and producer, her work has been praised for its ground-breaking representation of people of color in media. In 2014, she became the first African-American woman to be nominated for a Best Director Oscar for her movie Selma

All of DuVernay’s projects have a basis in political action. Her documentary 13th sparked a worldwide conversation about the disproportionate imprisonment of POCs, while When They See Us reignited public outrage over the treatment of the Central Park Five. Her work reminds us of the quote, well behaved women seldom make history. Through her tireless work, Ava DuVernay will forever earn her place in black women’s history in this country.

Arianna Huffington

Source: Simple Wikipedia

Author and political commentator Arianna Huffington launched the online newspaper The Huffington Post in 2005. Since then, it’s grown an audience of over 7 million visitors a month. This makes Huffington one of the most inspirational women in news media, acting as a thought leader in the fields of news, politics, business, and entertainment. 

Because of her status, Huffington’s site attracts some of the most high-profile writers in the world. Yet she never forgets to foreground other women in media. In 2016, a Huffington Post editor tweeted an image of the editor’s room; every single person sitting around the table was a woman. Arianna is one of the most powerful female leaders in the media. In 2018, Arianna Huffington shared a live Q&A in honor to celebrate women’s history month.

Maria Shriver

Source: Today

Maria Shriver, an award-winning journalist, and producer, has inspired women to be active and engaged citizens. Born into the illustrious Kennedy family, Shriver married actor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1977. She used her newfound fame to launch an inspirational career in media, anchoring for both CBS and NBC. When Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California, she seamlessly transferred her media skills to make a change through politics and philanthropy. 

Reese Witherspoon

Source: The Kitchn

As an actress, Reese Witherspoon has starred in some of the most iconic movies of the 20th century. She has won an Academy Award, a BAFTA, a Primetime Emmy, and two Golden Globes, and is currently the world’s richest actress with an estimated net worth of $400 million. However, Witherspoon doesn’t just lead the media industry in acting. She is also a decorated producer and campaigner. Hello, Sunshine’s production company is responsible for mega-hit series and movies such as Big Little Lies, Little Fires Everywhere, and Where the Crawdads Sing

Witherspoon is also instrumental in the #MeToo movement, speaking out about her “multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault” throughout her career. The bravery of this strong woman, as well as her talent, makes her one of the most inspirational women in the media. 

Ana Kasparian

Source: Simple Wikipedia

Anahit Misak Kasparian is an American progressive political commentator, media host, university instructor, and journalist. She is the main host and producer of the online news show The Young Turks. At first, the Armenian Kasparian was apprehensive about working on the show, but she soon became one of the loudest progressive voices in American politics. 

Kasparian has campaigned on various issues, including campaign finance reform, for-profit prisons, and free education. In 2022, Reuters reported that only 23% of women editors in the top 240 news outlets are female. Outspoken women in media like Kasparian are changing this, inspiring more women to enter the news.

Tina Fey

Source: NPR

Tina Fey is an Emmy award-winning writer, producer, and actress – and one of the funniest women in the world. She is known for her work on the sitcom 30 Rock, roles in movies like Date Night and Baby Mama, and as a cast member on the topical news show Saturday Night Live. Fey was so successful on SNL that she became the first female head writer from 1999-2006. 

She is also known for her partnership with Amy Poehler. They’ve toured together, hosted the Golden Globes together, made movies together, and even co-created Mean Girls, a cultural touchstone for millennial women. Poehler and Fey’s partnership is a shining example of how when one woman stands with another in media, they can achieve excellence. 

Cate Blanchett

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Born in Australia, Cate Blanchett has risen to worldwide prominence. She is known for playing challenging, unconventional female characters on both stage and screen, and has won many awards: two Oscars, four Golden Globes, a Tony, and four BAFTAs. Even in 2023, Blanchet won another round of prizes for her outstanding performance in TÁR. In total, she has won over 160 awards, making her one of the most awarded women of all time. 

Recently, Blanchett has brought her talent for representing unconventional women into the world of production. She has recently received two Emmy award nominations for producing and starring as Phyllis Schlafly in the miniseries, Mrs. America, which followed the rise of the popular feminist movement. 

We celebrate women’s history month by honoring women

At Jungle Communications, we celebrate women’s history month by celebrating the many women in media who’ve paved the way. There is still work to do to bridge the equality gap in media as women made up a mere 20% of experts featured in news stories.

Media is just the place for women to create a more equal society. One courageous act after another from women like Serena Williams, Emma Watson, and more will see inequality turn into equality. Women’s history is our history, so let’s celebrate it.

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