Women’s History Month: Nine Actresses on Books and Films That Inspire Them

First introduced as a national proclamation by Congress in 1981, Women’s History Month has been celebrated every year since then, using the 31 days of March to promote and amplify the voices of women across the country — and around the world.

To celebrate Women’s History Month, we asked nine actresses to tell us about the books, films and television shows that have inspired them, as women, over the years. Many of their selections were written by female writers, or star strong female leads. The shared goal of these actresses is to not only commemorate the achievements of women this month, but to celebrate their voices — and the stories they continue to tell — all year long.

I read “Just Kids” by Patti Smith about seven years ago and it has stayed with me ever since (read it here). I moved to New York at 18 to study theater at Fordham University at Lincoln Center. My New York was very different from Patti Smith’s and yet it felt familiar at the same time. I was immediately taken in by the picture she painted of my favorite city. And I was so drawn to this woman who went against social norms and followed her own very distinctive journey. I’m inspired by women who go against the grain, forge their own paths, and simply follow their hearts.

Another book I like is “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert (read it here). I read this book in two days — kind of couldn’t put it down. I think Elizabeth Gilbert is a true talent and renegade who exemplifies what it is to be real and raw and honest. I read “Big Magic” at the beginning of a New Year and it was the perfect fresh start. She writes with so much passion and power. It is impossible to read this book and not feel lifted up and inspired — a must read for any artist.

“Wild” is a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and based on the memoir by Cheryl Strayed. A film about an independent woman breaking away, putting it all on the line, and triumphantly succeeding? Yes, yes, and yes. This is the account of a woman rescuing herself and reaching new heights. A total hero story. (watch the film here | read the book here).

Anna Wood, “The Code” (premieres April 9 on CBS)

I like “Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth” by Oliver Jeffers (read it here). With my two-year-old and my job, I have very little time for leisurely reading. Most of what I read is children’s books. I’m very conscious that my child’s mind is a clean slate, and that what I teach and show her now will be the foundation of the way she perceives herself and the world around her. This book really encapsulates what it means to have a healthy relationship with oneself, the world, and time. And the art is breathtaking. Honestly, this book stopped me in my tracks the first time I read it to my daughter, and each time we read it together it reminds me to work hard, be kind, and stay present.

Greta Onieogou, “All-American”

I have very vivid memories of watching “Gilmore Girls” and instantly connecting to it early on in my teenage years (watch it here). I don’t think I realized it at the time, but what drew me in was the strong mother-daughter relationship at the heart of the show that I found so relatable. My mom has always encouraged me to be the best version of myself, to strive to do better, and through the highs and the lows, she’s helped me achieve some of my wildest goals. This relationship is both beautiful and complex, and I feel like we rarely get to see it reflected in film and television, especially at the core of a show. The fact that I now get to work in the same studio “Gilmore Girls” was shot in, truly blows my mind and feels like a full circle moment.

(Excerpt) Read more in: Variety

Women’s History Month: Nine Actresses on Books and Films That Inspire Them

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