1. Cate Blanchett
Of all the movie stars in Hollywood, Cate get’s the prize for natural beauty, class and brains. I loved how, when accepting her 2nd Oscar, she preluded her speech by acknowledging how “random” and “subjective” the whole award thing is – a wave to the political engine behind the golden statue. A mother of 3, an acclaimed theatre actress, the co-Artistic Director of the Sydney Theatre Company (until recently) and, yes, let’s say it again, a MOVIE STAR, Cate Blanchett is a pillar of grace and integrity in amongst a sometimes vacuous industry. Oh yeah, and she knocked it out of the park in Blue Jasmine!
2. Aung San Suu Kyi
Arguably the bravest women in the world, as the result of her struggle against oppression and commitment to democratization, Suu Kyi endured 15 years of house arrest over a 21 year period in Burma. She was a political prisoner when she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Suu Kyi’s powerful words from her Freedom From Fear speech: “It is not power that corrupts, but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.”
3. Lee Skubiszewski (my mom)
My mom often says, “I still don’t know what I wanna be when I grow up”. She undertook her Master’s degree whilst juggling a full-time career in education and us kids. Having studied fine art when she was younger, mom continued to draw and paint in her spare time – I have fabulous memories of naked women (of all shapes and sizes) lounging about in our living room while my mom and her ‘life drawing’ friends would carefully sketch their forms. Now in her 60s, my mom is experiencing a well earned artistic renaissance. 6 exhibitions later, her IRUYA exhibition is an abstract landscape revelation (and I’m not just being bias.)
4. Julie Blair
A good friend of mine is an Indigenous Australian and his mother, Julie, is a national treasure. In a time of great racial prejudice and injustice in our country, Julie was taken out of school after 6th grade and made responsible for the wellbeing of her cousin who had cerebral palsy. I once sent Julie a book for Christmas and later, when I asked if she’d found it a dense read (the book was Wanting by Australian author, Richard Flanagan), she reached down to her coffee table and showed me her dictionary – Julie had taught herself to read and write with a dictionary and this is how she continues to develop in literacy today.
5. Lena Dunham
Cellulite an’ all, this chick rocks my world! With a giant FUCK YOU to the male prescribed beauty standards of Hollywood, Lena has taken matters into her own hands and rewritten the rules. Not only is she a talented writer, director, producer AND actress (Girls, Tiny Furniture), she is also a well needed breath of fresh air in the biz. Various criticisms aside, she’s doin’ it.
6. Tess Cacciatore
I travelled to Ghana with Mama Tess to film Road to Redemption along with an accompanying docu about fistula in African communities. Having devoted a life to empowering young people and women all over the world, Tess’ most recent venture is GWEN, the Global Women’s Empowerment Network which recently launched an online TV network – GWEN TV. I can’t scream loud enough about the GWEN Alert – an App every women should have on her phone! If you’re in danger, you press the alert and 5 of your selected contacts will immediately be sent your geographic whereabouts. Genius Tess.
7. AnnaLynne Mccord
My co-star , collaborator and bestie (and one of my Gwen Alert contacts!), I first spotted AnnaLynne from a distance wearing some sexy white thing and large sunglasses just a few days before we began filming Scorned. Within seconds of meeting her, my ‘I hope she’s not a diva’ anxieties dissipated and throughout the course of filming, AnnaLynne demonstrated more generosity and poise than the Dalai Lama himself. AnnaLynne left Atlanta when she was just 15, finally found herself in LA and now boasts a dynamic acting career (90210, Excision, Dallas). Even cooler is her devotion to the Somaly Mam foundation – an organisation that works to eradicate sex trafficking. AnnaLynne’s humanitarian efforts haven’t been lost on Congress – she was awarded the United States Congressional Honor!
“I’m a survivor I’m not gon’ give up I’m not gon’ stop I’m gon’ work harder…” Enough said. #Bootylicious