#1: Jessica Chastain
The American actress has always been very vocal about gender issues in Hollywood. Last year at the Cannes Film Festival, where Chastain was a jury member, the 40-year-old made headlines when she commented on how she was ‘disturbed’ by the way women were represented in the films that she watched, and how she wished that there were more ‘female storytellers’ so that women could be portrayed more realistically. Most recently, Chastain was applauded for her role in helping fellow actress Octavia Spencer negotiate five times her asking salary on an upcoming film the two are doing together, after Spencer mentioned that women of colour usually earn less than white women.
#2: Emma Watson
Watson has an impressive track record of promoting women’s rights. After she was appointed as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in July 2014, the British actress helped to kickstart the HeForShe campaign in September 2014, which called on men to help women advocate for gender equality. The 27-year-old is particularly committed to providing education to women and girls – she has visited Bangladesh and Zambia to do so, while she created a Goodreads book club called Our Shared Shelf in 2016 to help promote the discussion of feminist ideas. Last year, she attended the Women’s March in Washington D.C. with her mum, while at the Golden Globes earlier this year, she brought activist Marai Larasi as her guest to help shine a light on violence against women.
#3: Tessa Thompson
If you’re not familiar with the name yet, then get acquainted, as the American actress is on a meteoric rise. The 34-year-old gained significant attention playing Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok (2017), and will reprise the role in this year’s highly-anticipated Avengers: Infinity War. Thompson is also making a splash on TV, with a starring role in the hit HBO series Westworld. When she’s not busy filming, Thompson shows her support for women’s rights in a variety of ways – taking part in the Respect Rally at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, wearing a customised sweater to show her support for female directors in the industry, and being one of the founders of the Time’s Up initiative.
#4: Natalie Portman
Another pioneer of the Time’s Up initiative is actress Natalie Portman, who also helped to start the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which aims to help offset or defray costs tied to sexual assault lawsuits. In just a month, the Time’s Up GoFundMe campaign has raised close to $20 million, with contributions both from the general public as well as substantial donations from celebrities. Portman was also in the spotlight earlier this year when she was presenting the Best Director Golden Globe award, where she pointedly stated: “Here are all the male nominees” – the slick and subtle burn has elicited wide-spread support and appreciation on social media. Just a few days ago, the 36-year-old also made an impactful speech about sexual terrorism at the Women’s March in Los Angeles.
#5: Reese Witherspoon
The American actress has been one of the staunchest supporters of the #MeToo movement and Time’s Up initiative since it began – not only is she a founding member of the latter, she – along with other actresses such as Meryl Streep and Jennifer Aniston – has made one of the biggest contributions to the Time’s Up fund by donating a whopping $500,000. The 41-year-old is making a real change in the industry too, as her new production company, Hello Sunshine, focuses on female-driven projects that tell the stories of real women. Along with Nicole Kidman, Witherspoon also stars in and produces the critically acclaimed drama series Big Little Lies, which revolves around the lives of three women, and have swept up countless awards.
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