Sunday July 22, 2018

'First' women of Hollywood

OPRAH Winfrey, the titan. Selena Gomez, the tastemaker. Ava Duvernay, the director. Ellen DeGeneres, the comedian.

These four women grace their own cover of Time magazine's latest issue called Firsts: Women Who are Changing the World.

Time made 12 different covers representing women from all walks of life who broke glass ceilings despite gender. The magazine interviewed 46 women for the feature story.

Winfrey landed a cover as a titan. She was the first woman to own and produce her own talk show.

In the interview, Winfrey shared that she was a news anchorwoman between 19 and 24 years old. But she was never comfortable interviewing people who went through disasters, because she could not openly empathize with them.

So she got demoted and found herself in a talk show.

“I said, 'I have found my home. This is what I was meant to do,” said Winfrey, 63.

In 1986, Winfrey created her own show: “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which went on for 25 seasons.

Another talk show host that has her own Time cover is DeGeneres, the comedian.

“When I first started doing stand-up, I was writing from the perspective of a human being, observing how we all act—it had nothing to do with a female perspective. It was just a human one. I don’t know if that’s because I’m gay and I just didn’t really identify with men and women being so different, but I didn’t consciously think, I’m not doing female material,” said DeGeneres, 59.

DeGeneres was the first person to star as an openly gay character on primetime TV. She came out in different media: in an interview with Winfrey and in an interview with Time 20 years ago. The magazine cover carried the now-iconic quote: “Yep, I'm gay.”

Gomez, 25, is on the list for being the first person to reach 100 million followers on Instagram. She is the most followed person on the image-sharing site, currently with 126 million.

“I am glad I grew up in the time that I did. I think it’s really hard to be a kid now, especially with social media... That’s why I like being vulnerable with my fans on social media. I like that they’ve seen my mistakes. I try to use that as a way to connect with them. That’s all I can do. I hope that they know that strength doesn’t mean that you have to put on a facade. Strength is being vulnerable,” the singer and actress said.

DuVernay, 45, is the first black woman to direct a film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar: “Selma.”

“I think there have been cracks made by women who can get close enough to hit it with the weapon of their presence. But I’m mostly bolstered by folks who create their own ceilings,” she said.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also has her own cover as the first woman to win a major party's nomination for president. Her critic and President Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway made the list as well as the first woman to run a winning presidential campaign.

In the entertainment industry, there is Shonda Rhimes, the biggest name on television right now with her TGIT—Thank God It's Thursday—lineup on ABC: “Grey's Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder.”

Times tagged Rhimes as the first woman to create three hit shows with more than 100 episodes each.

“I didn’t watch a lot of television before I started writing it, and I wanted to write people I wanted to watch. I was very surprised to discover that people thought Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang were revolutionary—they were like women I knew,” Rhimes said of two of her most popular “Grey's Anatomy” characters: Grey played by Ellen Pompeo and Yang played by Sandra Oh.

Also making waves in television is Issa Rae, the first black woman to create and star in a premium cable series: HBO's “Insecure.” The series is about modern day black women and how they cope with everyday realities of life.

“I want to create characters that people can relate to,” said Rae, 32.

Fellow actress Candis Cayne also made the list as the first transgender woman with a major role on primetime TV. She had guest roles in “CSI: NY,” “Dirty Sexy Money,” “Nip/Tuck” and more recently “The Magicians.”

“It was really the first time that a trans woman played a trans role for a recurring character—and the character had heart, she was an actual character that you could develop,” Cayne said of her character Carmelita Rainer on “Dirty Sexy Money.”

Also on the list are athletes Serena Williams, Gabby Douglas and Mo'ne Davis.

The list also includes Madeleine Albright, Mary Barra, Patricia Bath, Elizabeth Blackburn, Ursula Burns, Eileen Collins, Rita Dove, Ann Dunwoody, Sylvia Earle, Aretha Franklin, Melinda Gates, Nikki Haley, Carla Hayden, Mazie Hirono, Mae Jemison, Maya Lin, Loretta Lynch and Rachel Maddow.

Completing the list are Rita Moreno, Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Ilhan Omar, Danica Patrick, Nancy Pelosi, Michelle Phan, Lori Robinson, Sheryl Sandberg, Katharine Jefferts Schori, Cindy Shermam, Kathryn Smith, Kathryn Sullivan, Barbara Walters, Alice Waters, Geisha Williams and Janet Yellen. (JGA)