It’s nearly International Women’s Day again (Monday 8 March), a time where the world collectively celebrates the brilliant achievements of women, raises awareness against bias and pushes for gender equality.

International Women's Day
International Women’s Day

The theme for 2021 International Women’s Day is #choosetochallenge. At Melan Magazine, every day we highlight the achievements of and celebrate phenomenal women doing incredible things, so it was really difficult choosing a list of just 10 women to highlight in this piece.

The 10 women we picked out are individuals we have featured at some point during the last 12 months. Women who work tirelessly to do great things, proving to us and the rest of the world that we are indeed magic! Of course, there are so many more Black women who have been our motivation, so let us know in the comments who your inspiration is!

Remember to celebrate yourself this International Women’s Day; think about what you have achieved in the past year. Maybe you bagged a new job or learnt a new skill, or simply made it through the most challenging year in recent memory! Count the big wins, but remember the small wins are just as important!


Patricia Bright

Caught Off Guard
Patricia Bright

Patricia Bright has been killing it this past year, all the way through from January to December! Patricia is a multi-award-winning influencer with millions of followers across her platforms, the queen of YouTube, an entrepreneur, an author and the list goes on.  The mum of two has created her own social media empire focusing on fashion, beauty, business and investment; and we are here for it.

To kick start 2020, Patricia launched The Break Platform, the fastest growing YouTube channel on business, personal development and finance, aimed at women who want to become their own boss and make some serious money moves! This was followed by a second series of her Caught off Guard Podcast, where she talks to influential personalities from the world of business and finance.

This was all taking place at the same time that Patricia collaborated with popular make-up and beauty brand Revolution. Patricia brought out her own range of make-up for a full face of glam named, Rich in Colour, Rich in life.

Patricia refused to let 2020 or the pandemic catch her lacking and she continued to be an inspiration and a complete boss to those around her. She continues to thrive in the business and finance industry and is an inspiration to so many of us.

 

Dr Zoe Williams

hairdressers and barbershops
Dr Zoe Williams

Our favourite General Practitioner (GP), Dr Zoe Williams has been an inspiring, educational advocate for the COVID-19 vaccine and has gained the trust of thousands. Dr Zoe is a media medic, regularly appearing on ITV as their resident GP, starring in BBC’s Trust Me I’m a Doctor, as well as a working NHS GP. Dr Zoe has taken to social media a number of times, to dispel common myths about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Continuing to work as a GP, as well as taking up the role of a vaccinator herself, Dr Zoe has been taking time out of her busy schedule to relieve worries and stresses about the vaccine, a common issue within the Black community.

From how to check for breast cancer to reducing the risks of COVID and the signs and symptoms of colon cancer, she has been keeping the public informed about their health. Dr Zoe practices what she preaches, with her Instagram full of candid shots of her maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle.

Recently, the nations favourite doctor announced she is expecting a baby and we have been loving her regular updates on the size of her baby by comparing them to common household foods. Congratulations Dr Zoe!

 

Sheila Nortley

Sheila Nortley
Multi-award-winning writer and director Sheila Nortley

Sheila Nortley is a multi-award winning British Muslim writer and director who has been securing deals and producing some top-notch productions this past year.

Sheila ended 2020 on a high; producing an emotive short film named Joy, bringing light to the consequences of knife crime in London, which were at record high numbers in 2019/2020. She also directed another short film named I Am Mary, a film about a mysterious stranger and a mother who is living in exile with her son, as part of the multi-award-winning, I am Series.

Shortly after, it was announced that Nortley signed a unique deal with national broadcaster giant, Sky, which will see her developing three new television shows. This is her debut solo deal for television. When we thought Sheila couldn’t get any better, she started off 2021 joining the production team for the forthcoming Harlan Coben adaptation, Stay Close for Netflix.

Sheila has stayed winning in the past year, casting light on some of the most important issues in her time in the spotlight, we love to see it.

 

Viola Davis

What women want? Quality roles in films and movies
© Graeme Mitchell/The New York Times

Viola Davis is an Academy and Oscar award-winning actress and undeniably one of our favourite actresses in some of our favourite series and films. Viola is most celebrated for her role as lead character lawyer and lecturer Annalise Keating in the award-winning thriller series How to Get Away With Murder, which concluded in 2020 and for which she was nominated for an NAACP Award.

This year Viola put away the textbooks and time travelled to 1920s Chicago to take up the role as Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, a highly rated Netflix adaptation of the two-time Pulitzer Prize play of the same name. Viola embodied this role, and her performance was exceptional.

While her achievements speak for themselves, receiving nominations this year in the Golden Globes, she continues to unapologetically speak her mind and fights for her worth, no doubt blazing a path for those who come after her.

 

Luvvie Ajayi-Jones

Luvvie
The Fear-Fighter Manual: Lessons from a Professional Troublemaker by Luvvie Ajayi Jones
Image credit: Kesha Lambert

Luvvie Ajayi-Jones is a Nigerian, American New York Times best-selling author for her debut novel I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual, which she followed up this year with the release of her new book The Fear-Fighter Manual: Lessons from a Professional Troublemaker.

In her new novel, Luvvie encourages us to become a ‘professional troublemaker’, by being fearless, dreaming big, acting out of our comfort zones, being ourselves and questioning the status quo in order to do truly meaningful things and create change in our lives.

Luvvie’s book teaches vital lessons on authenticity and asks us to choose self-confidence and take up space in a room.

We had the pleasure of catching up with Luvvie before her book launch and she said: “We are often told that we are too aggressive, too loud, too opinionated and we spend a lot of time internalising that and finding ways to not be that but I’m like why? That’s truly our superpower.”

“We need to normalise being ourselves. It needs to not be extraordinary to be somebody who is authentic, who shows up in every room as who they really are, without apology.”

 

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu
Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu

This past year has been a heavy one, dealing with an unforeseen national pandemic whilst watching the Black Lives Matter movement erupt around the world. Advocates for race and discrimination are vital in expressing the views of the Black community, and Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu has been doing just that.

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu is an activist, lawyer and political commentator. She is a familiar voice in discussions about race and identity in the UK media, commenting on the challenges Black people face in a systematically racist country.

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu debut book This is Why I Resist is a direct response to those who enable or deny racism. We recently spoke to Dr Shola Mos Shogbamimu about her debut book and she told us the meaning behind her title, “This Is Why I Resist” encapsulates what I stand for and what I feel about inequality and injustice. I don’t think I could have used any other words to describe my mindset right now.”

 

Lashana Lynch

Lashana Lynch
Lashana Lynch
Image credit: Universal

Lashana Lynch spent 2020 securing high profile roles in big-budget movies, all while breaking down stereotypes and bringing authentic Black experiences to cinematic blockbusters. Lynch rose to fame in her role as Maria Rambeau in Captain Marvel.

Last year, Lynch secured the role of the first Black and female 007 MI6 character in the most anticipated and talked about Bond movie, No Time to Die, making history. When the news broke, outrage spread when people find out that a 007 agent had been cast as a Black woman. Despite this, it hasn’t stopped Lashana from bringing a “Black experience” that is “100 percent authentic.”

In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Lynch spoke about portraying the Black experience: “If something felt misrepresented or inaccurate – for example, the dynamic between a mother and her child, or the way we might wrap our hair to sleep at night… I had to learn to speak up.”

We love to see Black women being unapologetically themselves and not shrinking themselves down to fit the ideal narrative in the room, such an inspiration to see a Black woman bringing our stories to a wide audience.

 

Michaela Coel

CDX
Michaela Coel – Image Credit: BBC/Various Artists Ltd and FALKNA/Natalie Seery Photographer: Natalie Seery
Image Copyright: © Various Artists Ltd and FALKNA

Actress, screenwriter, director and produce, Michaela Coel is a real deal multi-hyphenate! She always brings relatable content to our screens and we are so here for it! Last year Coel produced, wrote and even starred in her own critically acclaimed BBC One series, I May Destroy You.

The award-winning I May Destroy explored sensitive topics, yet in true Coel style was hilarious and warm, it has even been recognised as one of 2020s best TV shows. This is some of Michaela’s best work yet. There was plenty of disappointment on social media when Michaela didn’t receive a Golden Globe nomination for this series, but the NAACP Image Awards have recognised her talents. Michaela has received a nomination in Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special category.

Many people were behind Coel after the Golden Globe snub, and we are sure she will receive even more flowers for her great work this past year!

 

Madam C.J. Walker

Madam C.J. Walker
Credit: Walker Family Foundation

Technically this entry is a bit of a stretch considering she is no longer with us, but it still fits the criteria as we featured Madam C.J. Walker in Melan during the last year. We had to include Madam C.J. Walker, not only because she was an African-American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political and social activist, but she is the first recorded female self-made millionaire in America, claiming a title in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Madam C.J. Walker made her fortune by developing and marketing cosmetics and hair products for Black women, her work is still inspiring Black entrepreneurs and businesswomen over a century after her death, so much so Netflix has released a four-part series last year inspired by Madam C.J. Walker.

There was also a book released in Madam C.J. Walker’s named, Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business. The book is based on her life and how she founded a Black beauty business that still dominates the hair industry to this day. Madam C.J. Walker is such an inspirational woman, still influencing literature and film in the twenty-first century.

 

Regina King

Regina King
Regina King with her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk

Regina King won an Oscar in 2019 and was named Time Magazine’s top 100 influential people, so her achievements speak for themself, but this past year Regina has shown us just how multi-talented she really is!

King killed it with her debut as director of her debut film One Night in Miami. The drama is a fictional account of four historical figures from the 1960s civil rights movement, who get together one night in Miami to discuss the civil rights movement.

One Night in Miami is a timely film that has something to say about racism. King’s debut film was nominated for a Golden Globe, making her the second Black woman to be nominated at the Golden Globe Awards for Best Director, we really hope to see Regina both behind and in front of the screen very soon.

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