Star of Black-ish, 17 year old Yara Shahidi is an actress, model and activist. She has spoken openly about the need for a better representation of women of colour in the acting and modelling world, calling for the entertainment industry to challenge the stereotypes that often see black actors cast as drug dealers, in poverty, or not at all. At Essence’s 10th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Awards, broadcast earlier this week, she directed her moving acceptance speech, for the Generation Next Award, to the inspirational black artists who joined her in the room and to promote the fight for equality. “I’m fortunate because you all have taught me by example what the role of the artist is: to disrupt, to remould, to create,” she said. “To disrupt this faulty system, to remould the foundation of this country into one in which all are given equal opportunities and to create a space in which our underlying humanity is recognised and our differences are celebrated.” Read our full story here.
7 WONDERS: GIRL POWER
In honour of International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the badass women who have graced Wonderland’s cover.
Raised in Newton, Massachusetts, Hari Nef became the first transgender model to be signed to a major modelling agency (IMG Worldwide) in 2015. She has since become an icon for the transgender community, using her platform to speak out about trans issues. When she spoke with Wonderland, she spoke about her awareness of her position as a white, trans woman. “There are no trans women of colour that I can think of signed to major modelling agencies,” she told Kaitlin Phillips in our 2016 cover feature (here). “It’s a pink-washing of transness.”” She has since gone on to say how she hopes for different trans stories to be told in the future, and not just stories of trans women who are closer to “cisnormative beauty standards”. More recently Hari appeared in a L’Oreal advert, broadcast before this year’s Golden Globe Awards; the significance of a transwoman saying “Because I’m Worth It” was not lost on anyone.
Over the last few days, Emma Watson has had her feminism brought into question following the combination of a Vanity Fair shoot and some people (cough, Piers Morgan) failing to understand properly her interview with Tavi Gevinson for Wonderland (here). When asked about the “controversy”, the ever classy Emma responded that feminism is “not a stick with which to beat other women with”, but about liberation, freedom, equality, and nothing to do with her tits. When looking at her Wonderland interview in context, it is also clear to see that after considering all sides, Emma praised Beyoncé’s presentation of herself as sexually empowered, intelligent and feminine, noting how Beyoncé never negated her feminist message and, ultimately, praising Bey. A vocal advocate for feminism, Emma was appointed a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2014 and launched the HeForShe campaign, calling for men to support gender equality, that same year. An icon in women’s rights movements, she continues to promote social and economic equality across the globe.
Rowan Blanchard is the 15 year old Disney kid with a conscience. A public activist for issues including feminism, gun violence and human rights, she has spoken at the UN Women and US National Committee’s annual conference as a member of the HeForShe campaign. Often using social media to eloquently talk about issues, she told Wonderland (here) how she cites social media as the platform that showed her problems were happening closer to home than she thought: “You think certain things happen in third-world countries or places that are really far away from where you live, but through social media I realised that things are happening right in front of me.” She also used social media to come out as queer in a serious of tweets, stating “Open to liking any gender in future is why I identify as queer”, and is a vocal advocate for LGBTQ rights. This International Women’s Day, Rowan is taking part in the “Day Without Women” strike, urging people to join the cause to show that a day without women is a “day without America”.
A former Twilight-star, Kristen Stewart is far from the passive Bella Swan character that first propelled her into the spotlight. In her interview with Wonderland (here), she spoke openly about feminism and her confusion over the trend “reverse feminism”. “I feel like some girls around my age are less inclined to say, ‘Of course I’m a feminist, and of course I believe in equal rights for men and women,’ because there are implications that go along with the word feminist that they feel are too in-your-face or aggressive. A lot of girls nowadays are like, ‘Eww, I’m not like that.’ They don’t get that there’s no one particular way you have to be in order to stand for all of the things feminism stands for.” In the last year, Kristen has also openly come out as gay, stating how she no longer wanted to hide her relationships from the tabloids as she didn’t want to imply there was anything wrong. Her openness also led to one of the funniest opening monolgues in SNL history, which saw Kristen simultaneously open up about her sexuality whilst taking the piss of the US President, “Donald, if you didn’t like me then, you’re probably really not gonna like me now because I’m hosting SNL and I’m, like, so gay, dude!”
Kim Kardashian West
Although your mind may not jump to activism when first thinking about Kim Kardashian West, the reality star has become an extremely vocal protestor. Despite proclaiming she’s not a feminist, her nude selfies have certainly become part of the conversation in bringing back sexual empowerment. As she told us in her Wonderland interview last year (here), “I see so many people claiming that they are a feminist and they don’t do shit to act like it.” She waves her hands. “I act ten times more of a feminist than some people that stand there and march. I definitely believe in all rights for women. I just don’t like labels.” She has also frequently voiced her strong political opinions on the Armenian Genocide and publicly condemned the Wall Street Journal for running an advert denying the Genocide, and she has become an advocate of Gun Safety, openly writing about her support for the Black Lives Matter movement. “I do not ever want to have to teach my son to be scared of the police or tell him that he has to watch his back because the people we are told to trust — the people who ‘protect and serve’ — may not be protecting and serving him because of the color of his skin.” Her tremendous amount of influence means that Kim is becoming an inspirational activist using her megastar status for good.
M.I.A attributes much of her success to the “homeless, rootlessness” of her early life. Growing up in Northern Sri Lanka, her family were displaced due to the Civil War, and her career has been dedicated to being a refugee advocate and a voice for the voiceless civilians in war. Most recently, her powerful video for “Borders” featured scenes that were inspired by the European migrant crisis. As she said in her Wonderland interview, “I came from a really fucked up political background and got bombed and shot at, but the revolution ended and this is what happens to you, six years later”. As a famous Tamil in Western media, she has also used her platform to publicly represent the Tamil minority and protest the Sri Lankan government. Alongside her activism, M.I.A is known for her philanthropy, supporting a number of charities; in 2008, she donated her performance fee at the MTV Movie Awards afterparty to building more schools in the country. You can read her full Wonderland interview here.