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Women are dominating the creative industry with their vision, precision and insurmountable work ethic. They do it all from launching bustling businesses to raising families and as we all know, that can be a challenging job in and of itself, but they always find a way to rise to the occasion. Even when society tries to shut them out. Women open up their own doors, creating, innovating and spearheading groundbreaking projects in industries like film, tech, fashion and television, leaving an indomitable footprint to inspire the next generation of women to dream big. Here are five female creators who are doing the unthinkable in their respective industries and who deserve their flowers now.
From actress to big-time Hollywood director, there’s nobody quite like the inimitable Regina King. Creativity is boundless, and the 51-year-old star embodies the phrase, taking on a wide range of characters from the smart and witty Brenda Jenkins on 227 to her Oscar-award winning role as the kind, loyal, and fiercely protective mother, Sharon in Barry Jenkins’ adapted film If Beale Street Could Talk, King has never backed down from an opportunity to step outside of her comfort zone and try something new.
“Every now and then I’ll have that moment where someone goes, ‘Oh my God. You were in that!’ That’s the blessing of a fruitful career,” the actress told CBS News in 2021, upon igniting Oscar buzz for her directorial debut film, One Night In Miami. King was later nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director, becoming the second Black woman to be nominated in the category. She also received a nod from the Director’s Guild of America.
What’s her secret to creative success?
During her Oscar-award speech for Best Supporting Actress in 2019, the Ohio native thanked her mother for helping to cultivate her skills and talents.
“I’m an example of what it looks like when support and love is poured into someone,” she said. Thank you for teaching me that God has always been leaning in my direction.”
The sneaker world hasn’t always been inviting to women, from limited sizing to lackluster design options and unfortunately, the Sneaker Head community is largely dominated by male collectors. A study conducted by StockX in 2014 found that 65 percent of men participate in the shoe retail market compared to 20 percent of women. Luckily there are visionaries like Sarah Sukumaran who are working hard to make the sneaker industry a more inclusive space for women and femmes.
Sukumaran, who previously worked at Nike as the Director of Product in analytics, grew frustrated when she discovered that female consumers were spending way more money on sneakers than their male counterparts, but why weren’t they being reflected in the industry? The sentiment led Sukumaran down a winding path to eventually creating her own women and femme-focused sneaker line and lifestyle brand called Lilith NYC, representing the “underrepresented folks in the sneaker world”. Sukumaran is leading the charge to help women embrace their divine feminine energy and to show up exactly how they are and who they are. Lilith shoes are designed with functionality in mind and are rooted in optimum performance for women.
Reality TV star and television host TS Madison has been breaking barriers in the creative world as an actress, media personality, and LGBTQ activist. Madison, who is a transgender Black woman, catapulted to stardom in 2013 after her hilarious video “New Weave 22 Inches” went viral.
“I had no idea that those six seconds were going to change the trajectory of the way my whole life was going to go,” she told the New York Times in September 2021. Last year, the bold and outspoken celeb starred as “Heaven” in the film Zola. That same year, the Miami native documented her journey to becoming the first trans woman to host a mainstream talk show on We TV’s The TS Madison Experience.
The road to stardom hasn’t always been easy for Madison as a trans woman. The former Rupaul’s Drag Race judge revealed during her candid sit down with the New York Times, that although she was happy with her identity, some people weren’t as accepting. Madison dropped out of college and was fired from multiple jobs shortly after she began hormone therapy in 1997.
” I didn’t go back and I got fired from many jobs because they didn’t understand me coming to work like this,” she explained.
Struggling to avoid homelessness and poverty, the star turned to sex work. She launched her own adult film production company in 2009, called Raw Dog Entertainment, an idea that exploded into a lucrative business.
“I put together my company and restructured the way that I started putting out my material. I started filming and making people think that now I’m under some kind of corporation. People thought Raw Dog Entertainment was a white company paying me, but it was mine,” Madison shared.
Well, dreams really do come true and after years of manifestation, hard work, and grit, the 44-year-old landed her very own talk show Turnt out with TS Madison back in January.
During a recent interview with MADAMENOIRE, Madison shared that she hoped to “humanize the trans-experience” for fans who tune in.
“I tried to do that with the TS Madison Experience... I really didn’t want reality TV. I really wanted to talk because talk has a broader reach than reality TV. And it brings communities together, it brings people from different ethnicities and backgrounds and social circles,” she said. The star has invited a number of guests to talk about a bevy of topics from mental health and homophobia to relationship advice. “It just brings us together. And so my show is bridging the gap. That’s the bridge in between the gap between cis and trans,” Madison added.
Brunson does it all from writing and producing to acting and comedy. The Philadelphia native rose to fame making hilarious skits on social media platforms like Instagram and Youtube. However, Brunson struck gold when she debuted her self-produced Instagram series Girl Who Has Never Been on a Nice Date in 2014. The star went on to produce and act in content for BuzzFeed Video and developed two streaming series with BuzzFeed Motion Pictures.
After making fans double over in laughter on HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, the 33-year-old star created and executive produced her very own show on ABC called Abbott Elementary in 2021, and it’s just been renewed for a second season too!
In the mockumentary-styled series, Brunson stars as the happy-go-lucky Janine Teagues, an optimistic second-grade teacher who has a mission to help the lives of her students. Based in a Philadelphia public school, Teagues and a group of dedicated teachers remain indomitable in their fight to put their student’s education first, even when underfunding and poor educational policies throw a wrench in their plans. Now, the star is giving back to real-life teachers and schools in need.
Earlier this month, Brunson revealed in an interview with NPR that her show’s production team and ABC donated a portion of Abbott Elementary’s marketing income to help provide teachers with more school supplies.
“It’s about being able to make those kinds of decisions that really excite me, things that can really materially help people,” she told the publication about the big deed.
Recently, the busy show creator teamed up with Scholastics to throw free book fairs to select schools across the U.S. Each student received two books and teachers from participating schools were blessed with 10 for their own classrooms.
Courtney Kemp Agboh
Courtney Kemp Agboh is a creative force to be reckoned with. The big-time showrunner lured in 10 million viewers a week with her hit drama series Power in 2014 on STARZ. Now, nearly eight years later, the series has harnessed 5 popular spin-off shows including Power Book II: Ghost which premiered on September 6, 2020, and more recently Power Book III: Raising Kanan which made its debut back in July.
The Columbia University alum received her big break into the TV industry when she penned a spec script for The Bernie Mac Show in 2015, and the rest was history. Kemp Agboh went on to write for a number of different television series including CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Happy Town, and In Justice. Eventually, the industry change-maker would write and pitch Power years later with a little help from film producer Mark Canton and rapper 50 Cent. During an interview with Drama Quarterly, Kemp Agboh recalled the moment she pitched the idea for the show to a group of big wigs in Hollywood.
“It was me and 50 and a ton of people, but I was the only one talking, so it was quite scary,” she confessed. “I don’t read a pitch; I only go in with cards with a few keywords on them. It’s a performance. You get passionate and excited about it and tell them the story. At the second meeting, 50 brought music so as I was pitching he was playing tracks from the show.”
Now, Kemp Agboh is continuing to expand her creative footprint. Last year, the 44-year-old powerhouse inked a multi-year deal with Netflix to create stories centered on women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ creators. Even in with success, the bustling TV exec told the Hollywood Reporter in 2021 that she still feels pressure to make good content as a showrunner, but its resilience, trust, and faith that has always kept her grounded.
“My experience as a showrunner is specific to me but true of a lot of people I know. We’ve been overachieving — because of trauma, nature, nurture or whatever — since we were kids,” she explained. “The perfectionism thing is really a big part of showrunning. You want to do people proud. At the same time, I trust that my track record is not so bad. I’ll come up with something.”