Celebrities have always fascinated Kelley, particularly ones who have made the earth a more compassionate, equitable and healthy place.
These impressive ladies have lots to offer . . .
Half of the people on the planet are women, so it seems time to present a list of the most interesting women on God’s green earth. By the way, this compilation doesn’t include women who are deceased—or men who have become women! Regarding the distaff, Simone de Beauvoir wrote, “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” Please enjoy!
1. Lucy Liu
Lucy Liu is a Chinese-American woman born in NYC. Liu began her acting career in the 1990s by doing a commercial and then landed the leading role in a stage production of Alice in Wonderland. Liu’s TV career took off in middle 1990s when she appeared in LA Law, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, the X-Files, ER and Ally McBeal. Her film career began in 2000 when she starred in Charlie’s Angels, a box-office hit. In 2010, Liu starred in the Broadway play, God of Carnage, which won a Tony Award. Liu has won many awards for her acting, including a Screen Actors Guild Award, an MTV Movie Award and a New York Women in Film & Television Muse Award. Liu has also worked as a director. Liu has also engaged in much charitable work and helped produce and narrate documentaries such as The Road to Traffik and Redlight; and 2006 she received the “Asian Excellence Award” for her work in Visibility.
2. Priyanka Chopra
Indo-Asian actress Priyanka Chopra, actress, singer, film producer, writer, philanthropist and winner of the Miss World 2000 pageant, is one of the most popular and highly paid celebrities in India, if not the world. Acting in the Indian film industry, aka Bollywood, since the early 2000s, Chopra has appeared in numerous films, including The Hero: Love Story of a Spy (2003), Love Story 2050 (2008) and Barfi! (2012). Since 2015, Chopra has starred in many American films and TV shows – A Kid Like Jake (2018), Isn’t It Romantic (2018) and played the character Alex Parrish in Quantico. Notably, Chopra won the National Film Award for Best Actress for starring in Fashion (2008). She’s also been engaged in many philanthropic projects, working with UNICEF since 2006, as well as numerous other charities, documentaries and programs throughout the world.
3. Greta Thunberg
A Swedish environmentalist, Greta Thunberg in 2018 called for a school strike for the climate—and a million kids responded with protests. Thunberg urges everyone to reduce their carbon footprint by giving up air travel, turning vegan and creatively reusing waste, among other “green” lifestyle changes. She claims the world needs to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent before 2030. A worldwide public figure at the age of 15, Thunberg was selected by Time magazine’s as its Person of the Year for 2019 and was awarded the Rachel Carson Prize for 2019. Greta was also featured on HBO’s documentary series Vice, the 30-minute segment entitled “Make the World Greta Again.” Two themes in her advocacy are: “unite behind the science and act on the science,” thereby saving the earth from an “existential crisis caused by climate change.”
4. Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton, or Thrill Hill as some people call her, is the first woman nominated by a major political party to run for the presidency of the United States. Hillary was also a senator from New York from 2000 to 2008. Then from 2008 to 2012 she ascended to the office of Secretary of State, globe-trotting from continent to continent and drinking champagne with heads of state. Even though Hillary Clinton has been enmeshed in a scandal or two, she's never been indicted for committing a serious crime. Interestingly, Hillary Clinton is often considered the Most Admired Woman in the World. She’s also been selected as the Most Admired Woman in America a record 21 times!
Unfortunately, Thrill Hill lost the 2016 presidential election. Better luck next time for her, or maybe she’ll finally retire from politics. Either way, she’s still one of the most impressive women in the world.
5. Kathleen Martinez
Born in Santo Domingo, Kathleen Martinez has a great passion—or obsession—for ancient Egypt and Queen Cleopatra, in particular. Since 2002, Martinez has been venturing from one site to another, hoping to locate Cleopatra’s tomb, lost for the last 2,000 years. Martinez thinks the tomb may be found at Taposiris Magna, a necropolis and sacred site for the goddess Isis, located about 50 kilometers from Alexandria, Egypt. This site has been dated to the reign of Ptolemy V (one of Cleopatra’s ancestors), who ruled about 200 B.C.E. After quitting her law practice for awhile and, using her own money, Martinez has been getting down and dirty in subterranean tombs, shafts and passages. She hopes to shock the world with the greatest archaeological discovery since the discovery of King Tut’s Tomb in 1922.
6. Oprah Winfrey
Since the middle 1980s, when Oprah Winfrey began her career as a talk show host and also starred in the blockbuster film, The Color Purple (1985), directed by Steven Spielberg, her stature, popularity and importance in the public eye has become a world-wide phenomenon. Small wonder Winfrey eventually became the richest African-American on the planet, worth an estimated $3 billion as of 2016. Winfrey has also been a writer, media proprietor, entrepreneur, producer and philanthropist, as well as the winner of numerous awards, including the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But perhaps Winfrey’s greatest renown is that of a talk show personality and host, who revolutionized the talk show tabloid format pioneered by Phil Donahue, emphasizing confession, literature, self-improvement and spirituality, among many other compelling, contemporary issues.
7. Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus is a pretty, toothy gal from the rolling, verdant hills of Tennessee, where she grew up with famous dad and country singer, Billy Ray Cyrus. This dynamic duo spawned Miley’s blonde-coiffed Walt Disney persona, Hannah Montana, which turned the teen world upside down. These days, the superstar pop diva, actress and songwriter is one of the most admired women in the world. Moreover, Miley has created the Happy Hippie Foundation, which sponsors programs designed to help homeless people and LGBT youth. She released her fourth studio album entitled Bangerz in 2013 and embarked on a world tour by the same name in 2014. Then, in 2016, Miley acted in Woody Allen’s series, Crisis in Six Scenes. And, when she isn’t recording new singles, albums or videos, she’s practicing yoga and pilates and getting more tattoos.
8. Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie has been one of Hollywood's greatest movie stars for decades, though other than starring in numerous movies, Jolie also has interests in humanitarian causes and travels to third world countries to see what’s happening with its refugees and poor people, interests and activities for which she won the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. But it hasn’t always been a smooth ride for Angelina. As a teenager, she used to cut herself for some kind of “therapeutic benefit,” as she put it. Regarding this period, she said, “I’m still at heart – and always will be – just a punk kid with tattoos.” Perhaps as a crowning career achievement, thus far at least, Jolie directed the wartime drama Unbroken (2014), which won three Academy Awards.
9. Kamala Harris
An attorney and politician by vocation, Kamala Harris became Attorney General of Californian in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014. Then Harris, running as a Democrat, was elected to the US Senate in 2016, replacing incumbent Barbara Boxer. Harris has an unusual ancestry; she’s the daughter of an Indian-American mother and a Jamaican-American father, making Harris the second black woman and first Indian American elected to the US Senate. Interestingly, after Harris flunked the California bar exam the first time she took it, she remarked, “It’s not a measure of your capacity.” Notably, Kamala Harris, along with Joe Biden, were elected to the Executive Branch of the US in 2020.
10. Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren has made a career of playing queens in movies, having done it six times, including once each for both Elizabeth I and II, the only woman to play both parts, in fact. Of English and Russian descent, Helen learned her acting craft doing Shakespeare back in the 1960s. Over the years, Helen has worked in the theatre, movies and television, winning accolades and awards in all of them. Perhaps her greatest claim to fame was winning an Oscar for Best Actress in 2006, playing the part of Elizabeth II. On a trivial note: Helen provided the voice for the supercomputer “Deep Thought” in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And in 2019 Mirren starred as a Russian queen in HBO’s drama series, Catherine the Great, also starring Jason Clarke as Grigory Potemkin.
11. Amy Mainzer
Amy Mainzer is an astronomer specializing in astrophysical instrumentation and galactic astronomy. Since 2003 she’s worked as a research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and is Deputy Project Scientist for the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer. Mainzer has also appeared on the Science Channel’s program How the Universe Works, on which she tells everyone about nebulas, black holes, neutron stars, brown dwarfs, asteroids, comets, planetary atmospheres and just about any other astronomical phenomenon one cares to know about. She’s also appeared on the History Channel’s series, The Universe.
12. Meria Heller
Meria Heller hosts The Meria Heller Show, a podcast heard in over 60 countries. She interviews various personalities involved with subjects such as environmentalism, conspiracies, healthcare, climate change, alternative medicine and, of course, politics. Heller seems on a quest to save the planet from rapacious corporations, crooked autocrats and vainglorious pundits.
Heller is founder of The Universal Wheel in Phoenix, Arizona, a philosophy and lifestyle based on the unity of all things. Heller is also the author of Cutting to the Chase (2013), a book about maximizing interpersonal relationships.
Heller also uses watercolors to paint landscapes relating to her world travels or involving Native Americans and Native American spirituality. Heller’s artworks generally express a positive outlook on life. Her point of view is that “the world is depressing enough—why paint depressing images?” Interestingly, Heller has also done some stand-up comedy!
13. Rula Jebreal
Rula Jebreal is a perhaps best known for being a commentator on MSNBC. Jebreal was born in Haifa, Israel and grew up in Jerusalem, where she and her sister were raised in an orphanage. Eventually Jebreal earned a Master’s degree in journalism and political science, and then she launched a career as a foreign anchorwoman in Italian television. Then, in 2003, she published a novel entitled Mira, which sold millions of copies and was eventually made into a movie directed by Julian Schnabel, with whom she had a romantic relationship. Jebreal can speak four languages: English, Italian, Arabic and Hebrew. Religious at least in a way, Jebreal says she’s a “secular Muslim.”
14. Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera is certainly an impressive Latina. Within the world of pop music, it would be hard to identify a young female pop star who’s received more recognition, praise and awards than Christina Aguilera. One of many young divas to work on the Disney Channel, Christina’s four-octave soprano helped catapult her to prominence in 1999 with the release of her first album, Christina Aguilera. Christina soon developed a reputation for her steamy, risqué performances, particularly on the hip-hop-influenced video “Dirrty,” of which some of the lyrics are “sweat until my clothes come off.” About her rep, Christina declared, “I am not your little cookie-cutter virgin.” For the standards of the time, one might say Christina’s racy performances are simply de rigueur.
Nowadays, though, Christina has embraced motherhood and continues with her solo singing career, having it all, it appears. And, from 2011 to 2016, she starred as a coach on NBC’s The Voice.
15. Michelle Obama
The first African-American woman to be First Lady of the US, Michelle Obama is a pretty, intelligent, well-educated woman from the Southside of Chicago, Illinois. The mother of two girls, Malia and Sasha, Michelle Obama gave important keynote speeches at the 2012 and 2016 Democratic National Conventions. Michelle has also been active in a campaign to promote good nutrition, regular exercise and healthy eating habits. Moreover, Michelle Obama is an outgoing, affable woman many celebrities like to have on their talk shows. Michelle Obama has authored two books, American Grown (2012) and Becoming (2018), an autobiographical memoir of her life as the First Lady of the US from 2009 to 2017. And, as of July 2019, Michelle Obama is considered the most admired woman in the world.
16. Soledad O’Brien
Soledad O’Brien, the daughter of immigrant parents - her father is Australian and her mother Afro-Cuban - is a broadcast journalist and producer, who began her career as an associate producer and news writer for WBZ-TV in Boston. In 1991, O’Brien joined NBC News in New York City, appearing on Nightly News and Weekend Today. Then in 1996 she anchored MSNBC’s weekend morning show. Appearing on numerous TV shows as a host or correspondent, as well as producing or hosting many documentaries over the years, O’Brien’s filmography is a long and impressive list. Even trying some acting, she appeared as the Dawn of Justice in Batman vs. Superman (2016). Currently, she’s the host of Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, broadcast on NBC.
17. Dolly Parton
Singer, song-writer, actress, musician Dolly Parton has accomplished much in her life; she’s sang 25 songs that reached #1 on the Billboardcountry music charts, tying Reba McEntire; she’s released 41 top-10 country albums; she’s won 10 Grammy Awards and 10 Country Music Association Awards and has 16 various Hall of Fame honors. Not bad for a girl born in a one-room cabin on the banks of the Little Pigeon River! Now well into her seventies, she’s still a stunningly beautiful woman and admits to having much plastic surgery; she once said, “It takes lots of money to look this cheap. If I see something sagging, bagging or dragging, I'll get it nipped, tucked or sucked." A devout Christian, Parton once said she’d do just about anything in a movie except cuss or make fun of Jesus. She also has many philanthropic interests, including the Dollywood Foundation, the American Red Cross and the American Eagle Foundation. Notably, Parton co-wrote the book, Dolly Parton Songteller: My Life in Lyrics (2020).
18. Tsai Ing-wen
The youngest of 11 children and Chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party, Tsai Ing-wen is also the President of the Republic of China (aka Taiwan or the island of Formosa or Nationalist China) and the first woman to be elected president of the Republic of China. In 2020, Time magazine listed Tsai as one of the 100 Most Influential People. Moreover, Tsai is in favor of LGBT rights and endorses same-sex marriage. On Facebook in 2015, she stated: “I am Tsai Ing-wen, and I support marriage equality and everyone should be able to freely love and pursue happiness." Tsai also favors the development of renewable forms of energy, particularly wind and solar. And the Tsai administration plans to phase out the use of nuclear energy by 2025.
19. Aly Raisman
An American gymnast in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, Raisman won six medals, three of which gold; she also won four medals, two of which gold, in the World Championships in 2011 and 2015. After her career as a gymnast, Raisman has been a model for Sport Illustrated magazine. Then, in 2016, Raisman was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, making it to the finals before she and her partner, Mark Ballas, were eliminated. In 2017, Raisman and many other gymnasts, claimed they had been sexually abused by Olympic coach Larry Nassar (later convicted of child molestation), and since then Raisman has been an activist for abused women around the world. And in 2018, Raisman and other American gymnasts involved in the sexual abuse scandal, were given the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
20. Bernadette Peters
Bernadette Peters may be the most famous Broadway star in the U.S., having starred in such productions as Annie Get Your Gun, George M!, Gypsy and Song and Dance, winning two Tony Awards. Bernadette has also worked extensively in movies, as well as television, receiving an Emmy nomination for her role on Fox’s hit show Ally McBeal. Also a phenomenal singer, Bernadette has recorded numerous albums and singles, and frequently performs in concert as a solo act. Bernadette has often worked with musical stage legend Stephen Sondheim, their latest collaboration the CD Sondheim Etc.: Bernadette Peters Live at Carnegie Hall. Moreover, Peters provided the voice of Glinda the Good Witch in Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (2014). In recent years, Peters has appeared on many TV shows and video series, including The Good Wife and the Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce.
21. Alexandra Amon
After growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Alexandra Amon went to college in Scotland and became a cosmologist. While working for her doctorate degree, Amon helped the public learn more about astronomy and science by giving lectures at the Observatory of Edinburgh. Using observations, she now studies the universe and tries to answer questions such as: what is the universe made of and how did it evolve. Her work is regularly published in the monthly reports of the Royal Astronomical Society. Amon is continuing her research as a Kavli Fellow at Stanford University in California and sometimes appears on TV shows for PBS.
22. Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle, a woman of mixed ancestry—her mother is African American and her father Caucasian—was born in Los Angeles and has worked as a model and actress in TV and films. She became a member of the British royal family when she married Prince Harry in 2018, becoming the Duchess of Sussex. Markle is an outspoken feminist and released a line of clothing in 2016. In 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were stepping back from major duties as part of the royal family and plan to spend much of their time living in North America. Markle has many charitable interests: World Vision Canada; The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; Our Community Cookbook; and Sussex Royal the Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Notably, Meghan and Harry also announced they would seek financial independence in the future.
23. Paula Abdul
Paula Abdul, singer, actress, dancer and choreographer, began her show business career in the middle 1980s when she became a choreographer for Janet Jackson. Then Abdul blasted to worldwide stardom in 1988 when her debut album, Forever Your Girl, shot to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 (four singles from the album were number one hits, including “Opposites Attract,” which won a Grammy Award for best short video). Abdul became a TV star from 2002 to 2009, when she worked as a judge on American Idol and has judged talent on other TV shows such as So You Think You Can Dance. She’s also earned credits for her choreography on such movies as The Doors (1991) and American Beauty (1999). At present, Abdul continues to perform as a singer and dancer and act in TV shows and movies.
24. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Born in the Brooklyn borough of NYC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is of Puerto Rican descent. In 2020, AOC won the race for the US House of Representatives for the seat in New York’s fourteenth congressional district, defeating a Republican candidate with heavy financial backing, a repeat of what she did against another similar opponent in 2018, when, at 29, AOC became the youngest woman ever elected to the US Congress. A progressive within the Democratic Party, AOC favors a very liberal platform, rankling centrists; she supports Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and the abolition of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A pretty young woman, who wears her signature red lipstick, AOC has become a star in social media and has appeared on many TV programs.
25. Elaine Elias
Of Lebanese descent and born in São Paulo, Brazil, Elaine Elias was a musical prodigy; by 12 she was transcribing the music of jazz musicians, while at 15 she was teaching piano and improvisation; and at 17, she began her performing career. In 1981, Elias moved to NYC and joined the jazz fusion group, Steps Ahead. Elias also performs and composes classical music; she also sings very well. Elias has performed with numerous prominent musicians: trumpeter Randy Brecker, with whom she was married for a time, Herbie Hancock, bassist Marc Johnson, her current husband, Denyce Graves, Joe Henderson, Andy Summers and Toots Thielemans. Notably, in 2017, Elias won a Latin Grammy Award for Dance of Time, the Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year. And in 2019 Elias released the studio album, Love Stories.
26. Maria Ressa
Maria Ressa is a journalist and author; she is also a co-founder and the CEO of Rappler, an online news website located in Manila, the Philippines. Before then, Ressa worked for 20 years as an investigative journalist for CNN’s Southeast Asia division. An outspoken critic of former Philippines president Benigno Aquino III and current president Rodrigo Duterte, Ressa was convicted for “cyberlibel” in June 2020, a charge Ressa claims was politically motivated; in fact, she is the defendant in many lawsuits. Ressa is the author of two books regarding terrorism: Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda's Newest Center (2003) and From Bin Laden to Facebook: 10 Days of Abduction, 10 Years of Terrorism (2013). Also, Ressa is the subject of the Frontline documentary, “A Thousand Cuts,” which explores Ressa’s allegations regarding Duterte’s extrajudicial killings during the Drug War.
27. Fran Lebowitz
Fran Lebowitz has lived in NYC since 1969 and has lots to say about it—mostly critical—yet still seems to love it; she could also be a female version of Woody Allen, another New Yorker. Lebowitz is a writer, public speaker and actor. She’s written for many different magazines: Interview (founded by Andy Warhol), Mademoiselle, Newsweek and Vanity Fair. She’s appeared on many TV shows, including Late Night with David Letterman and Real Time with Bill Maher. From 2001 and 2007, she played the part of Judge Janice Goldberg on Law & Order. And, possessing an outspoken wit, she often expresses opinions about politics, guns, Donald Trump, smoking, MeToo and bigotry; she also starred in the documentaries Public Speaking (2010) and Pretend It’s a City (2021), both of which produced and directed by Martin Scorsese.
© 2009 Kelley Marks
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on March 18, 2019:
Hey, Kiera, only women who are still alive appear on this list. Nevertheless, Marie Curie is one of the greatest scientists of all time.
Kiera on March 18, 2019:
Marie Curie is better XD
James c Garrity on August 22, 2017:
I have always believed the most impressive woman ever has been eve of the bible.a woman that enacted real change.you go girl.xoxo.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on September 10, 2009:
Demi Moore is certainly a good choice. Maybe she's number 11! Thanks.
gusripper on September 10, 2009:
You have choose these ladies one one for separate reasons,I think only one famous lady can do everything and this is DEMMI MOORE
elisabethkcmo from Just East of Oz on September 08, 2009:
What a great idea for a hub, and a notable list!
Especially glad to see Christiane Amanpour and Helen Mirren.