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“Chic Chat’s” Influential Women of 2017

“Chic Chat’s” Influential Women of 2017
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2017 was a remarkable year for women who banned together and spoke out against many longstanding societal injustices. Women were bold, fearless and committed to making a change to what had typically been brushed aside as the norm. Not only that, we saw an uprising of creativity and individuality from women of all ages and diversities.

While there were numerous women to choose from this year, “Chic Chat” highlighted a select few who were without a doubt influential and “woke” in 2017.

Tarana Burke

taran burke
photo from NY Times

Perhaps the most influential campaign of the year was the “Me too” (#MeToo) movement, which Burke created to speak out against sexual harassment and assault.  Burke, currently the senior director of programs at Girls for Gender Equity, started the movement after working as a youth counselor in Alabama. The campaign gained national attention amid a wave of women coming forward to accuse Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault. Actress Alyssa Milano propelled the #MeToo movement into another stratosphere after sharing her own experience of sexual harassment.

Now the #MeToo founder is scheduled to kick off the iconic New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square to ring in 2018!

Constance Wu

Constance Wu

Perhaps most known for her role as the hilarious Jessica Huang on ABC’s sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat,” Wu continues to prove she is more than an actress, but also a feminist, activist and humanitarian. This year she opened up about Hollywood’s history of stereotyping Asians.

Wu stated,”[People] think that when I talk about Asian-American narratives that they can cite ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ or ‘Mulan’ as proof of concept when it’s a different experience… They aren’t our stories.” She added, “A lot of times people think of Asian culture as some mythical world, instead of modern people with modern occupations with modern problems, modern tools.”

It’s sad to think people are still stuck in this fixed mindset, and it’s people like Wu who are keeping it real and starting a much needed dialogue.

Elaine Welteroth

Elaine Welteroth

As the Beauty Director of Teen Vogue, Welteroth felt as though it was time for a change. She was tired of featuring the same young women on the cover: “Rich, pretty, white bloggers in fashion.” After urging her colleagues to consider featuring a different type of star on the cover of the glossy — or to at least ask models and actors more than just the rote promotional questions — her plea worked. Welteroth was named editor of the magazine and has since been committed to providing substance over style.

Now with her self-described “cool auntie” image, the young editor continues to move Teen Vogue into the next generation.

Amanda Seales

amanda seales
photo from Mashable

Comedian and actress Amanda Seales, who stars on Issa Rae’s popular HBO show “Insecure,'” bravely came out with a personal story of sexual harassment from music mogul Russell Simmons, who has denied all allegations. Seales powered through and stood her ground by putting out a PSA on her instagram stating how “power dynamics” in a patriarchal and sexist society make it hard for people to believe they can expose harassment and assault without being unfairly questioned, especially in the workplace. Her words spoke volumes and encouraged others to continue to come forward in situations where they’re being mishandled and treated inappropriately, no matter what the power structure in their workplace may be.

Sheryl Sandberg

sharyl sandberg
photo from WSJ

Aside from being Facebook’s COO, Sandberg took to the #MeToo movement with her own personal experience, delivering powerful words of wisdom and caution. Sandberg stated:

“Sexual harassment has been tolerated for far too long in the halls of government and companies large and small. For the first time in my professional life, it feels like people are finally prepared to hold perpetrators responsible. I’m cheering.”

As encouraging as her words were, Sandberg also showed concerned for some of the rumblings she had heard amongst here male peers “I have already heard the rumblings of a backlash: ‘This is why you shouldn’t hire women,’” she wrote. “Actually, this is why you should.”

“We need systemic, lasting changes that deter bad behavior and protect everyone,” she added, noting that in her book, ‘Lean In,’ a majority of senior male managers told her they were afraid to be alone with a female colleague, over fear of sexual harassment accusations. “Doing right by women in the workplace does not just mean treating them with respect. It also means not isolating or ignoring them,” Sandberg wrote, encouraging men not to “just hire women,” but to “mentor, advise, and promote them,” too.

Nowadays, there is no better platform than Facebook to speak out against this inexcusable behavior, and it’s incredibly refreshing to hear these words from its female COO.

Ava DuVernay

ava duvernay
photo from NY Times Magazine

As the director of 2014 Academy Award nominated film, “Selma,” as well as the soon to be released Disney film, “A Wrinkle in Time,” DuVernay has become the first woman of color to direct a $100 million live-action movie.

Outside of the big screen, the filmmaker has a second season of “Queen Sugar” on OWN where she seeks and hires an exclusively all-female network of directors for the series. And following the success of “13th,” her Academy Award-nominated Netflix documentary, which examined how the 13th Amendment of the Constitution fuels mass incarceration, DuVernay extended her relationship with the streaming company in June to write and direct a five-part scripted series that will revisit the story of the young men falsely accused in the Central Park Five case.

Now with a platform that commands the industry’s attention, the talented director remains committed to changing the landscape in favor of those who are typically unrepresented.

Rose McGowan

rose mcgowan
By Noam Galai/WireImage

Say what you about Rose McGowan, controversial or not, the actress and activist has been outraged and with rightful cause. She is angry about sexual assault, rape, complicity and more recently the use of the word “alleged” in connection to accused sexual predator Harvey Weinstein. McGowan has been unapologetic in her cause, even when her rage is aimed at her fellow actresses. But, without a doubt, her call to attention to the epidemic of harassment and assault has been heard loud and clear.

Angela Rye

angela rye

As an attorney and political strategist, Rye remains both fierce and poignant on relevant issues of our day. The CNN corresspondent eviscerated conservative radio host Joe Walsh in a televised exchange that spilled over from Twitter, and refuses to refer to Donald Trump as her president on-air — defiant enough for you? No matter the issue, Rye shows no fear in putting injustices in the forefront by preaching the truth.

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