Stardom isn't just about worldwide adulation and designer clothes - it also gives celebrities a chance to use their global platform for good.
Feminism and gender equality have become trending topics in the entertainment industry over the past few years, thanks to the #MeToo revelations and the creation of the Time's Up movement, with scores of female stars opening up about their experiences in order to create a positive dialogue - one that's arguably had a knock-on impact in inspiring other women around the world to join them in speaking out.
Other famous faces, from Reese Witherspoon to Oprah Winfrey, are dedicated advocates of 'paying it forward' - using the connections and resources that have come as a result of their successes in order to create opportunities for other women, and work hard to spotlight female-led stories, too.
On International Women's Day 2019, these are just a handful of the famous women who inspire us.
Witherspoon is rightly celebrated for a screen career which has seen her move seamlessly from teen classics like Legally Blonde and Cruel Intentions to her Oscar-winning turn in Walk The Line to her role as star-slash-executive producer on prestige drama Big Little Lies (for which she'll earn a reported $1 million - roughly £760,000 - per episode for the second season).
But she’s also a force to be reckoned with behind the camera. A major figure in the Time’s Up movement, the 42-year-old has long been pushing for female-led stories to get the platform they deserve. Her production company Hello Sunshine (which is almost entirely staffed by women) is devoted to amplifying women’s voices and creating a more inclusive approach to media. As Elle Woods might say: “What – like it’s hard?”
Alongside playing the world's most prolific name-dropper Tahani in The Good Place, the former T4 presenter has made time to kick start the body-positive ‘I Weigh’ movement on Instagram, in which she encourages women to see themselves in terms of their achievements, not their weight.
She’s also not afraid to call out body shaming and "toxic" diet culture - even if it means taking some of the most famous women in the world (cough, Kardashians, cough) to task over promoting weight loss products to their impressionable young fans.
At the age of 19, Stenberg is already one of Hollywood’s most articulate stars. The Hunger Games actor is a proud multi-hyphenate who is committed to using her platform to speak out on issues from cultural appropriation to the importance of intersectional feminism to the need for better representation on screen.
Recently named one of Time magazine's Next Generation Leaders, she also chooses her screen roles with care: she's previously spoken about how she was keen to avoid "tokenistic" roles following her appearance in the Hunger Games, and last year revealed that she removed herself from the Black Panther casting process, as she felt the film was better suited for darker skinned actors of colour.
What's a list of inspirational women without Oprah? There is seemingly no end to the presenter-slash-actress-slash-media mogul’s talents. The self-made billionaire is dedicated to giving back through her extensive philanthropic efforts.
Her private charity, the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, provides grants for non-profits that support a range of important causes (focusing on women and their education), while her Leadership Academy in South Africa is dedicated to giving students a better future. Then there’s her undisputed talent for motivational speaking. Winfrey famously prompted calls for a 2020 presidential campaign when she delivered her Cecil B. DeMille acceptance speech at last year’s Golden Globes, and though she’s laughed off the fan reaction, we can’t help but think she’d do a pretty good job.
She’s smashed just about every existing chart record thanks to the runaway success of her most recent album Thank U, Next (she’s the first female artist to replace herself as number one in the UK singles chart, as well as the first woman to hold the number one album and top two singles) but it’s Grande’s strength and grace in the face of tragedy that makes her an inspiration to millions.
Following the terrorist attack on her show at the Manchester Arena in 2017, the singer drummed up support from her famous friends to put on the One Love Manchester concert, which is thought to have raised around £10 million for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund. She reportedly turned down an honorary damehood for her efforts last year, but is set to return to the city to headline Manchester Pride later this year.
From child actress to gender equality champion: Emma Watson has managed to make the difficult jump from teenage stardom to adult activist look easy. In 2015, her keynote speech as a United Nations Women Global Goodwill Ambassador went viral as she kickstarted #HeForShe, a movement for gender equality. She’s since launched Our Shared Shelf, an online book club spotlighting feminist literature.
She’s also been refreshingly open about acknowledging that she has plenty to learn about the feminist movement, especially the need for intersectionality.
Williams is without a doubt one of the most impressive athletes of all time. She holds 23 grand slam titles (the most recent of which she won shortly after welcoming her daughter, Alexis Jr), shares the record of most Olympic tennis medals with her sister, Venus, and from 2009 to 2018, she didn’t lose two matches in a row – how’s that for a success streak?
Wins aside, she’s also proved her strength time and time again as she's faced racist and sexist criticism on and off the tennis court. Since becoming a mother, she's been refreshingly open about the struggle to balance the demands of her world-class career with the demands of looking after a young daughter, and even managed to change the Women's Tennis Association regulation when she called the organisation out for dropping her ranking during her pregnancy.