Not only do we see successful women in real life, but we also see that working women inspire a number of movie directors to show, through the big screen, the struggles women have to overcome pursuing their career paths. I’ve put together a list of top five remarkable and inspirational movies about successful women who go after what they want until they get it.
5. Legally Blonde: This film might be overlooked due to its light-hearted comedy status, however, it brings the viewers a strong female character in the face of Elle Woods, played by Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon, who managed to succeed in a field she’d never expected to. Even though Elle was driven to Harvard law school in order to win her ex-boyfriend back, she soon discovers her passion for law. Despite being the butt of the Ivy League school's snobby jokes, her determination brings her to her first courtroom victory. Elle’s character shows a perfect path of finding one’s passion and following it in spite of all the prejudice.
4. Baby Boom: Diane Keaton’s character in this movie is management consultant J.C. Wiatt who dedicates her entire time to her upscale job. But that is destined to change when life throws her a surprise and she inherits a child from her recently-deceased relatives. Now, J.C. faces a dilemma between her motherhood, her work and her relationship. The insane attempt to juggle all leads her to losing her job and her boyfriend. However, J.C. can’t be stopped, and she moves with the child onto new beginnings. Her restless nature helps her become a successful owner of a baby food company, a career she could have never anticipated and yet thrives in. J.C. is an inspiring character that shows there is no need to fear falling down as long as you get back up and try again. Sometimes unexpected things might bring new opportunities, and the chance to succeed should never be feared.
3. Working Girl: This classic movie from the late 80’s brings us the character of Tess McGill, played by Melanie Griffith, who sends the viewers a message of taking a chance. When the strong-willed Tess gets tired of her trivial life, she takes up a new job as a secretary at a prestigious Wall Street firm. Soon after, Tess sees an opportunity to pose as her boss and she discovers her innate business savvy and proves that she has what it takes to rise to greatness. So, the regular girl’s climb up the corporate ladder has begun. This movie encourages its viewers to stand up for oneself in order to get the proper credit. It also sends the message that a journey to success usually starts at the bottom, and that hard work definitely leads one to the top.
2. Morning Glory: Fabulous Rachel McAdams’ character, Becky Fuller, is a hungry for success, hard-working TV producer of a local news program, who loses her job at the beginning of the movie. Despite the major disappointment, Becky doesn’t give up and takes on a new job at low-rated national morning news show. Becky decides to better the show by bringing in a legendary TV anchor, whose hard-nosed personality is a challenge. Becky’s endless drive and fast-paced lifestyle is inspirational to all the women who are trying to break into the big field of TV. Along her career path, Becky also demonstrates a useful ability to resolve conflicts while dealing with different personality types. Becky ultimately shows that being passionate about something you love can lead you to success.
1. Devil Wears Prada: Last, but not least, this movie brings us two strong female characters. The irresistible Meryl Streep plays Miranda Priestley, editor-in-chief of the most prestigious fashion magazine in the country. Miranda, aka “The Dragon Lady”, has an iron fist when running her business. She shows that you have to have a thick skin if you want to reach the top. But behind the closed doors, even she faces challenges of juggling the work she loves and her family. Andy Sachs, skillfully played by Anne Hathaway, is an aspiring journalist, who becomes Miranda’s second assistant. Now, Andy is thrown into the demanding world of fashion, and at some point she wants to quit under constant pressure from Miranda and an insane 24/7 work schedule. But Andy takes the time to embrace this job experience and succeeds in order to move on to her dream job of being a journalist. Andy shows that quitting halfway isn’t an option and that hard work really does pay off in the end.
Even in the movies, directors have shown the usual challenges women face on their path to success. Unfair treatment, prejudice, juggling family and work, broken relationships – all can be found in the above movie list as well as in real life. However, if driven by passion, the end result is rewarding and inspirational. The battle for success is worth fighting for!
Interested in learning more about being a successful woman? Be sure to read The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It.