THE WOMEN TO FOLLOW THIS 2019

From the month of March being the International Women’s Month, I became aware and more attracted to recognising the women that exude great impact because of their idealism, passion and beliefs.

It had been a month of reflection and special consideration in coming up with a final list. You may say, the following were subjectively selected but I aimed to rationalise each choice on a scale of how they could be celebrated as ambassadors of the International Women’s Month this 2019.

As I follow them on social media, both their achievements and flaws, inspire me altogether. Here are the badass women whose efforts should be duly recognized:

1. SHONDA RHIMES

One of my favorite writers for creating my favorite series, Grey’s Anatomy. Not to be too cheesy around it but I am sure this series brought great impact, not only to me, but to many viewers because of the story-telling tales of Meredith Grey as she started to be in the medical program at the fictitious Seattle Grace Hospital.



As far as different personalities fuse significantly while working with one mission— in the series case, to save lives, Shonda magically weaves fresh ideas, entertaining dialogue and superb unexpected twists in this drama which reached 15 seasons and is still running up until this time of writing.

Shonda remained in pursuit of a solid ground for writers to play and practice their creativity. Being the show runner, head writer, creator and producer, she found this freedom and global reach when she collaborated with NETFLIX.

Shonda Rhimes shares her experiences and aims to educate within global reach through Netflix and Masterclass.

This simple goal built Shondaland, her production company, from ground up. Nurtured of the necessary ‘no’s’ for self-growth and enough ‘yes’s’ to be whirled into building an empire. Because of her dedication to her craft, Shondaland was able to produce the following shows:

Grey’s Anatomy (2005-present)

Private Practice (2007-2013)

Off the Map (2011)

Scandal (2012-2018)

How To Get Away with Murder (2014-present)

The Catch (2016-2017)

Still Star-Crossed (2017)

For the People (2018-present)

Station 19 (2018-present)

She is in this list because her writing creates characters of color stand out.

I researched on her the moment Cristina Yang’s (of Grey’s Anatomy) strength resonated as one of the strongest leads in the series. I was in awe with her brave decision for that strong of a character to be Korean. When I checked on her and knew that she was a woman of color herself, I fell under a spell. I thought, she was bold and it’s what the industry needed so bad.

Despite its pilot episode highlighting Meredith Grey, a local Seattle-born Caucasian, it stirred into something unpredictable. This continues with all other series that she wrote. I admit, it gets tiring to watch white people always at its supremacy. Cristina makes Meredith realize she’s the sun (the show’s way of saying, “You are meant to shine!”) later on. And this puts balance in place. Eventually, there can’t be two Harper-Avery Award worth of surgeons, so one of them needed to go. So, Shonda is just the kind of writer that embodies influence and uses it in all the right ways that celebrate International Women’s month.

Shonda Rhimes shares her experiences and aims to educate within global reach through Netflix and Masterclass.

This woman is worth following not just because she’s as important as the characters she had shaped into reality. But she continues to build her legacy winning awards such as Writers Guild of America Award for New Series twice in 2006 and 2015 and a Lifetime Achievement Award in Television from the PGA Awards in 2016.

2. PATRICIA EVANGELISTA

with Patricia Evangelista, Journalist, Storyteller, Rappler Reporter

I met this very influential woman the Foreign Correspondent’s Club’s 2019 Journalism Conference here in Hong Kong. She was one of the first panelists to talk about the dangers she had met as a journalist in the Philippines and how risky it could get.

Patricia graduated from the University of the Philippines. Afterwards, she dedicated her time, effort and talent into producing content focusing on human rights, disaster and conflict.

Evangelista had shared topics that stirred sociopolitical controversy that she finds herself in constant guard of her own life. But her ability to prove such expose makes her a hero since it involves abuse of human rights getting into the public’s knowledge. She refuses to let it go as lives are at stake whether we like it or not. For her, she’d rather serve the people informing them of what they need to know so that they will be aware of the reality behind murders, kidnapping and arrest.

As a field reporter, she understands the danger she puts not only herself in the line but also her loved ones.

Do I fear for my life as I work in the field?

Everyday….

But I fear more for the thousands of people who are in danger for going against police operations regardless if it’s proven or not, innocent of the alleged crime or not. And the families that they might leave behind if they die.”

– Patricia Evangelista

Admitting her weakness yet choosing to be committed to her purpose is truly admirable.

Here’s an interview that shows what kind of reporter Patricia is and what story telling for her is.


The thing is many feminists impose ideas on how women should be man’s equal by doing/being able to do what men do.

I think it should be otherwise. To exude power is to embrace womanity at its finest, flaws and all. Embrace the qualities that only us women have. If we feel vulnerable or weak, we overcome it in our own coping ways and are expected to be. Dedicated, committed, and nurturing. We multitask, we bear children and we protect our loved ones in a very special way. As of the strength and bravery that Pat has, and with her ability to sustain passion over emotions, I believe that’s a strong woman’s power. And that’s what makes me include her in the line of achievers to be followed and looked up to.

3. GEENA DAVIS

Davis speaking at the Cinderella Ballroom of Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel for Ideation 2019.

Last March, Geena Davis visited Hong Kong to talk about her dedication to a research she had been conducting for more than a decade.

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender Media is a non-profit research organization that researches gender representation in media and advocates for equal representation of women. – WIKIPEDIA

She simply started presenting a familiar scenario of tending to her daughter (4 years old). One day, they were trying to choose a kid program to watch and what she realised was that show after show, the lead would always be a boy and that there were very few programs that contained a female lead role.

She realised the impact of this in the society and that thinking how early (as these are programs kids watch at a very young age) “stereotyping” is introduced, this convinced her that she had to do something about it.

Statistics were truly alarming.

Though she admitted that her research may seem superficial at this point because of lack in budget, she dedicates fully to the task of making a difference. She had to use the resources she has such as the movie industry where she is. Ever since, she always would carefully choose the roles she would portray in movies and projects that she says yes to. She always hugged women empowerment through story-telling. From her movie, Thelma and Louise and A League of Their Own, Geena Davis portrays very powerful female leads. And with her latest appearances in the series, Grey’s Anatomy, it says no less of her pursuit to be an inspiration to all women.

The Geena Davis Institue on Gender Media creates awareness by encouraging writers, directors, producers, playwrights to create stories, movies and shows, anything that uses media, to speak its mission. And that is to increase the number of female roles to balance out what had been omitted for the longest time. Specifically, stories, movies and shows that resonate to 11-year-olds and below since this is the formative age concerning identity.

Another alarming result of the research was that, children are exposed to social media 7-10 hours a day and so the task is simple for those content creators — avoid anything that would favor being biased. This is another resource that Geena Davis uses. She addresses executives in the movie industry and not the public because she believes in its power to instill to its viewers a message. If she is able to encourage the movie makers and the story tellers to partake in this aim, it’s as good as reaching the public as well.

The Institute is against stereotyping of female characters, and it furthers calls for roles that empower women than denigrate them.  – WIKIPEDIA

Listening to her from the first row was not a coincidence. I know I was meant to be that near since I am a writer and this task includes me.

4. CRISEL CONSUNJI

Based in Hong Kong, Crisel Consunji is a world-class talented Filipina, who is based as an educator in Hong Kong. She recently won the Hong Kong Film Award for Best New Performer portraying the role of a Philippine Domestic Helper in the movie, Still Human.

I got the privilege of working alongside Ms. Consunji way back 2008-2009 and I knew from then that she has an extraordinary drive in life. She owns an angelic voice that gave her a sturdy status in the music industry. She flourished as a woman from being the High School Musical lead vocalist to imparting knowledge to the younger generation of today using the beauty of music and play.

As she founded Baumhaus alongside her better half, she progressively innovated her skills by expanding her horizons, taking in new challenges and seeing different kinds of opportunities. Being an advocate of the performing arts, she worked hard on finding a sanctuary that would house the skills in singing, dancing and interacting without compromising the need to have fun. Now with 3 branches open to welcome kids, Crisel remains a superwoman in accomplishing another set of skills as an actress.

A photo shoot we did in Tin Shui Wai around 10 years ago in the name of productivity. It even had a watermark of my maiden name.

She was grateful in having the capacity to tell a story of a nurse, turned domestic helper who once dreamt to become a photographer.

South China Morning Post described the story very touching. That whether you are young, old, man, woman, rich or not so privileged and which ever state of life you’re in, you would be able to relate to it because of the realities it touched. Such as the unfortunate domestic helpers that not only here in Hong Kong are equally productive and are huge contributors to the society, as much as the white-collar jobs, but are not well-compensated considering the services they give.

There are painful scenes that is beyond the awareness of the many and so, having a way to impart this reality in a large-scale and along the legendary actor, Anthony Wong. It gave her a sense of accomplishment.

This is the first time for Crisel to play a role in a movie and this seals her celebratory success as a woman.

Definitely she represented womanity internationally. For different cultures coming to play, she transformed into something she herself couldn’t believe have become. It’s humbling to hear her speech in receiving her award in the Hong Kong Film Festival.

5. LANI WENDT YOUNG

She wrote the very powerful TELESA series, a young adult trilogy, and the contemporary SCARLET series, her entry for adult category. She was born and raised in Samoa and attended university in USA and New Zealand. Eventually, she returned to Samoa to work as a high school teacher.

She is a Samoan/Maori writer, editor, publisher and journalist.

I love that Ms. Young is from Samoa, where my husband is from, and so, I am familiar with how she talks in her book. I can totally hear her when she sends out humor using the fa’asamoa (Samoan way). I love her guts. And I love how she weaves paragraph after paragraph. She’s truly talented in the story-telling aspect thinking how she could magically produce something so good while tending to 5 children and a husband. Not to mention, the kids that she handle in the school.

Lani Wendt Young, writer of 11 books from Samoa.

She is a living epitome of who I imagined looking up to in the writing league side by side with Shonda Rhimes.

She dreams of writing a book that she would love to read and she did it with the Telesa series. That was incredible fiction that talked about love, women begin all sorts of power and most of all, it talked beautifully of Samoa.

In addition, I love how she lives by with this mantra in my head, “The happiest people and the best people to hang out with are those who love to eat.” She is exactly that, fun, fierce and is a foodie! Undeniably, with the Scarlet series, she described different life scenarios through food and dessert. It was incredible writing.

It’s just a matter of time that she would get all these works recognized globally.

Right now, circulation is greater amongst the Polynesian region, New Zealand and Australia. But the whole world should be able to read her works. As a representative of the Polynesian writers all over the world, she strives to follow-up.

Being one of my International Women’s month ambassadresses, I am proud to say she was recently awarded the 2018 ACP Pacific Laureate. She was selected by the Africa, Caribbean, Pacific Group of States. And this award recognized her creativity, courage and entrepreneurship. As a pioneer in writing one of Samoa’s topics considered taboo, Lani’s books are now used as academic reference for fictional writing.

6. EMILY STEEL

Miss Steel is one of the 75 most influential people in American news media in 2017. She graduated from the University of North Carolina.

Miss Steel was beyond-my-expectation the most accommodating Pulitzer Prize Winner. She was so down-to-earth thinking how fierce her investigative report was about Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. Many women who were seduced to explicit affairs and sexual favors about their careers by O’Reilly were exposed. And maybe because of it, he got fired.

The #MeToo phenomenon may be due to Miss Steel’s report as it began later that year. Lots of sexually abused women, mostly celebrities, came forward and shared that they too, got engaged in indecent proposals from powerful men unwillingly. 201 of these powerful men, according to New York Times had lost their jobs because of these incidents.

Emily Steel’s writing in 2018, with Michael Schmidth, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Then the Gerald Loeb Award for investigative business journalism.

Not only was she brave in speaking up for the many women that were victims of sexual misconduct. She dedicated her time, giving justice to those who were left silenced. She described the long process it took her to publishing at the FCC Journalism Conference 2019 here in Hong Kong.

It wasn’t easy and there were many times that we didn’t know how to continue with it. Or whether there were women who were willing to come forward. Until there was one who did. And it was all the hope that we needed to pursue publishing it. – Emily Steel

7. LADY GAGA

Even if there’s only one person in a room of 100 people believing in you, it is more than enough. To that accord, I need to put Lady Gaga in the list after she won an Oscar Award this year. “Shallow”, sung with her co-star Bradley Cooper, stood out because of the passion she gave in writing it.

From her weird vibe starting with a poker face all the way to thriving the days of wearing fresh meat in the name of rebellious fashion. Then came, A Star is Born.

What a transformation!

Lady Gaga went through a needle hole to earn it. She thrived through illness, endless criticisms and struggles with her own self as she grows through all of it. She represents that part of not just the women, but of everybody, were flaws that serve as fertile soil for anew to flourish. And, she proved that mistakes or errors become necessary to achieve real success. For without it, you’ll never feel the achievement in the journey itself.

In my opinion, I thought so many songs in the movie’s soundtrack deserve more recognition. I find the writing of the one below truly moving. Her talent, raw personality and raspy voice turns this into a masterpiece.

8. CATRIONA GRAY

Who could represent the International Women’s Day if not for Miss Universe 2018 herself, Catriona Gray!!! A Filipina-Scottish descent who was born in Queensland. Her mother being a Filipina and her dad being Scottish, Catriona owns an interesting physical beauty. This propelled her into being a model, singer and title holder altogether. Born in Queensland in 1994, she received a master certificate in music theory. She actually took part in Miss Saigon. Besides performing arts, she also earned a black belt in Choi-Kwang Do for martial arts.

Catriona won the title Miss Universe because of her confidence and aim to represent Philippines at its best. She mastered that catwalk with a fierce trademark of a simple turn showcasing her beauty and ability to sustain balance. No, she didn’t stumble. Actually, she teased. She made it her trademark plus the Philippine earrings she wore that night of the pageant.

This woman need no build up as she had established herself in the whole world when she competed. Here’s a quick look for those who didn’t get to see her performance.

Right now, she lives in New York, fulfilling her duties as Miss Universe 2018. It’s amazing how she represents Philippines. But most of all, it’s amazing how a woman could serve as an ambassadress of the universe because of her wit and will. Mabuhay ka Catriona!

That’s it!

I hope you could get some inspiration from these women who once dreamed just like you. If there are other women that you think is worth to be in this list, do let me know and maybe we could come up with next year’s list altogether.

About

I have a deep regard for time. But when I write, it passes so swiftly that I forget it exists. This helped me realise my love for it. After more than a decade of doing so, I expanded on learning from my readers as well. I also love a cup of Joe, a good read and the season of Autumn.

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