5 Inspirational Leading Ladies From our Favorite Movies

1. Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia!

In Mamma Mia! Donna Sheridan is an entrepreneur-ess of sorts who starts and runs Villa Donna – an idyllic hotel on a small Greek island. She is also an affectionate mother to Sophie Sheridan. After watching the sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, we see a younger Donna and learn a bit more about her life before Sophie. Donna graduates from University and immediately sets off to travel by herself which is how she meets the three great loves of her life. When Donna becomes unexpectedly pregnant, she fearlessly goes through the pregnancy alone on the Greek island where she later runs her hotel. What can we take from Donna? She’s chock-full of motivation and lives to satisfy her heart’s desires – whether that be travelling alone to unknown places, falling in love again and again, or choosing to create a home for her daughter in a new place. She is the epitome of independence and initiative and sometimes we all need to be a bit more like Donna.

2. Toula Portokalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Toula is 30 years old and unmarried. For her very Greek family, this is an issue that needs a solution ASAP. Toula convinces her father, Gus (who’s only goal is for Toula to meet a “nice Greek boy”), to let her go to University. She goes from working at the family restaurant as a waitress to working for her aunt at a travel agency. Ian Miller, a teacher, happens to walkby the agency one day and the rest is history – they fall madly in love… but there’s one problem (well maybe two): Ian isn’t Greek and he’s a vegetarian. After hiding her relationship with Ian from the family for a while, Toula finally introduces Ian and his family to the Portokalos family. While Toula’s family works to accept Ian, she learns to accept her culture and heritage as one of the most important things about herself. Toula starts out in the movie as a woman sailing through life unconscious of herself and what she wants. After some reflection, she finds a career she is passionate about and has worked for as well as a man she loves. Toula always reminds me that it’s never too late to chase after what you want.

3. Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures

Based on the true story, Hidden Figures is about a mathematician named Katherine who works for a research centre’s computer division. One day, a job at NASA opens up and Katherine applies only to be told that she will never be an engineer at NASA because she needs additional certifications that are only offered at an all-white school. Cut to the end of the movie and Katherine plays an integral part in the landing of one of NASA’s space capsules named Friendship 7. During her career (and the duration of the movie), Katherine has had to deal with segregation as a result of both sexism and racism, but she doesn’t let that stop her. She goes against everyone who told her what she couldn’t do and does all of those things… and then some. Katherine is the unstoppable force we should all strive to be like.

4. Annie Walker in Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids is a story about two best friends; Annie, whose bakery has failed and is struggling to find true love, and Lillian, who becomes engaged and asks Annie to be her maid of honour. Annie helps plan a bachelorette party for Lillian and her assortment of hilarious girlfriends. Annie is struggling with her finances and self-confidence, all while questioning her life’s purpose. Contrary to Annie’s planning suggestions, the girl gang tackle Las Vegas. There are some disagreements between the friends, but in the end, Annie is a crucial aspect for Lillian on her big day and friendship triumphs all. Channelling a little Annie now and then couldn’t hurt. She’s a great friend regardless of her current situation and pulls through for Lillian when it matters most. Annie embodies selflessness and is one who, even with a fear of flying, goes to Las Vegas for her friend and is always “ready to party”.

5. Rachel Chu in Crazy Rich Asians

Rachel has been dating her boyfriend Nick for a while now and he’s decided it’s time for her to meet his family in Singapore. On their journey, Rachel realizes that Nick is very wealthy, and his family has a reputation for just that. Rachel has to contend with being thrown into this unprecedented world of (for lack of better term) crazy rich Asians. Nick’s mother wants him to marry a woman that is of high class, comes from money, and shares their culture, but Nick is in love with Rachel who is none of those things. Rachel is loathed by Nick’s mother and is even driven to turn down Nick’s proposal because she sees no other way. Rachel sacrifices Nick to make his mother happy and to show her that even though she may not be rich or high-class, she still loves Nick and will do what’s best for him, even if that means not being with him. Rachel’s character is willing to give up her happiness for the sake of Nick’s relationship with his family. Rachel shows us what real love looks like. Nick’s mother recognizes this in the end and welcomes her into the family.

These are just a few of my favourite leading ladies – if you haven’t seen one of these movies you should definitely check them out. Reach out and let me know which leading ladies inspire you!

Written by Ana Mota