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Culture > Entertainment

5 Female Movie Characters Who Inspire Me

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Rutgers chapter.

Women’s History Month may be over with the start of April, but that doesn’t mean we should stop uplifting empowering voices and stories. Here are just a few of the many influential female characters from the past several decades of film that will help you celebrate feminism all year long.

Princess Leia Organa (Star Wars)

If I had to choose one movie franchise as my favorite of all time, without a doubt it would be Star Wars. While there are so many aspects of the films and shows that I adore, one of the best features is the endless list of iconic characters. Despite the fact that there are many more central male characters as compared to their female counterparts, I still am able to find inspiration, as a woman, through Princess Leia Organa. When the audience first meets her in A New Hope, Princess Leia is just a hologram asking for the help of Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. However, throughout the rest of the franchise, she proves to be a strong, independent and witty leader who really knows how to use her Blaster. She is the writer of her own story, and doesn’t let any man tell her what to do. When the charming yet egotistical Han Solo was vying for her attention, Princess Leia was reluctant to give in to his appeal and showed him that she didn’t need him to be happy. She made it very clear that she was in control of her own life and would not be pushed around. Princess Leia is cunning, brave, fearless, and dedicated to making the galaxy a better place. By the time the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy came around, Princess Leia transitioned into General Organa and not once gave up on her fight against the Empire. Not only does she possess inspirational traits that all women should look up to, but she truly shows the power of a woman in a male-dominated world, and that is what I think is so important for women everywhere to view in this series.

Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)

When I first watched the iconic movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, I wasn’t a big fan of protagonist Holly Golightly. To me, she seemed careless, selfish and insincere. I tried so hard to like and understand her character, but I just couldn’t get behind it. It wasn’t until I watched the film a few more times that I finally began to understand and sympathize with her. I realized that she was, in fact, careless, selfish and insincere, but not in the bad way that I had thought at first. Holly was simply just living her life as she wanted to, not controlled by anyone else; that is something that I really admire. She dressed extravagantly for herself, socialized with the upper class for fun, and seeked to live off the money given to her by older men. Holly was a charming, independent woman who lived her life as a free spirit with no solid routine. Since she really didn’t have concrete people or responsibilities in her life, everyday was something new and exciting. When her new neighbor Paul came along, he slowly but surely fell for Holly. At the same time, however, Holly was trying to pursue some of the richest men in the world instead. She married a Brazillian man named Jose and was supposed to move there with him, but things ended up not working out. In the end of the film, Paul gushed his feelings for Holly one final time, saying that they belonged to each other. Holly responded to him saying that people don’t belong to other people, and that she belongs to no one. It wasn’t until after Paul left Holly, and spoke his mind, that she decided she wanted to be with him after all and wanted to be truly in love. Holly’s desire to be her own woman and do her own thing in life is something inspiring to me. She only got involved with men when she wanted to and never let anyone boss her around. She spent every day how she wanted, and was the person who she wanted to be regardless of what people thought about her. Always.

The Bride (Kill Bill)

The Kill Bill films easily rank in my top ten favorite movies of all time for many reasons. I love the plot, the film work, the cast, and the fact that the movies center around a badass woman played by Uma Thurman! Her character, The Bride, is an ex-assassin seeking revenge on her old boss/lover and his assasination squad for their attempt to assassinate her at her wedding. Shockingly, The Bride survives the attempt and wakes up in a coma at the hospital four years later. She musters up all her strength to get out of bed, escape the hospital, and steal a truck from the parking lot. Once she finally regains her strength, The Bride immediately knows what she has to do: kill Bill and the rest of his squad who did this to her. From here, the movie segues into The Bride taking out each member of the squad one by one in fierce martial arts and weapon battles. She is a strong, dangerous woman who will not give up until she gets justice for their wrongdoings. Not only is The Bride mentally tough and cunning, she is also an extremely gifted fighter and martial artist. She escapes from a buried coffin, kills 88 men sent to protect one of the squad members, and by the end of the films gets her revenge on all five members including Bill. I admire the tenacity, determination and fierceness of The Bride. Her ability to take out anyone in her way in order to get what she wants is remarkable and I find inspiration through her immense strength.

Hermoine Granger (Harry Potter)

Another great film franchise that I loved growing up, and still love, is the Harry Potter series. The magic of wizardry, places like Hogwarts and Diagon Alley, as well as the antics of Harry, Ron and Hermoine made the films so immersive and enjoyable. While I did love all of the characters and their personalities, Hermoine was someone who I and many young girls watching the films looked up to. She was super bright, clever, dedicated, and a natural born leader who wasn’t afraid to stand out. Hermoine had no problem raising her hand in class and showing off her knowledge or bossing Harry and Ron around when they were slacking. She was simply being herself and not allowing anyone to change her. Hermoine saved the boys countless times, including when she figured out that the Basilisk was terrorizing the school in Chamber of Secrets, turned back time to save Harry in Prisoner of Azkaban, or helped him defeat a dragon in Goblet of Fire. While Harry and Ron were playing with chocolate frogs, Hermoine was reading books; the boys definitely could not have survived without her. She was a role model that girls everywhere could look up to. She made it known that girls could be smarter, stronger and better leaders than boys. Her intelligence, sass and drive have inspired me to be a greater woman, and she is without a doubt one of the most powerful young women in the HP cinematic universe.

Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games)

Yet another film universe I was obsessed with growing up was the Hunger Games movies. While I do like Star Wars and Harry Potter more, I did my fair share of nerding out over The Hunger Games as well. After war and disaster tumbled through North America, the Capitol of Panem was created as a new government which ruled over its land composed of 12 districts. Each year the Capitol put on The Hunger Games, a televised event where a boy and girl from each district were chosen to compete to the death until one winner rose above the rest. At the “reaping”, where the government chooses the “tributes” who compete, Katniss’s younger sister is chosen. Terrified for her family, Katniss makes the brutal decision to sacrifice her own life in order to save her sister’s. Once in the games, Katniss shows to be extremely cunning and determined to survive. Despite the fact that she had little training prior to the games, she continued to prevail over all of her opponents. Not only is Katniss brave for volunteering herself, but she proves herself to be an immensely strong fighter as well, never giving up on her goal to get out of the games alive. While she is an intelligent fighter, she also isn’t a cold-blooded killer like some of her opponents. A group called “the Career Pack” was specifically formed to maliciously hunt down weaker competitors. Katniss, however, still maintained her kindness and compassion, and purely did what she had to do in order to survive. She even grows a strong bond with a boy named Peeta from her district and saves his life. By the end of the film, it’s just Katniss and Peeta left, and she could have killed him easily for the fame and fortune if she wanted, but she isn’t malicious. The two begin to ingest poisonous berries, planning to both die, when the government announces them both as winners. Katniss’s bravery, cunningness, strength and compassion are all things that inspire me. I think she truly embodies what it means to be a powerful woman.

Although there are so many inspirational women in the real world, fictional women can also have an impact on the lives of girls everywhere. We grow up surrounded by film and television, and the content that we see has a substantial effect on our experience as a woman. It is very important that girls growing up get to have role models like these women, and get to see the true power of women and what they are capable of in a world that tells them otherwise. Since the film and television industry is so male dominated, being able to have a character who you relate to and who you can look up to is truly powerful. The strength, drive and intelligence of these five female characters have inspired me to be the woman who I am today.

Tori is a current freshman at Rutgers University from Middletown, New Jersey. She is pursuing a major in Marketing and loves to watch Netflix, write, travel, and be outside.