Breaking the Glass Screen: Women Pushing the Media Boundaries

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Rachel Bloom – Writer & Actor

Rachel Bloom is the amazing and multi-talented driving force behind the show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. The actress/comedian/singer/songwriter has used the TV show’s platform on the CW to push the boundaries of representation over its four year run. She speaks (and sings) candidly of the realities women face, eschewing the portrayals of perfect, two-dimensional women that grace the small screen in larger numbers than we’d like to admit. Bloom takes on the common stereotypes and tropes that plague television writing and turns them on their head. Whether it’s representing the spectrum of sexuality or portraying mental illness realistically, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend never shies away from difficult and complex topics with strong storylines and a catchy song. With the show coming to an end this year, we can only be excited for Rachel Bloom’s next endeavour.

Gina Martin – Activist

Gina Martin is a creative, a campaigner and a chic earring enthusiast who rocks the Instagram world through her pastel posts and uplifting yet starkly natural Instagram stories. Through coining the hashtag ‘#bethechange’ and managing to pass a law against up-skirting, she is the epitome of the modern woman (if there even is one). Gina shares rawness like no other, through her relentless Instagram stories documenting the challenging realities of passing a law, and the everyday struggles of being a woman, from protesting outside parliament, to shouting at her neighbour to turn his porn down. Her Instagram allows room for flaws, there is no false, unattainable depictions of beauty, or what it is to be a woman, just aesthetically pleasing and meaningful, practical activism. Her daily empowerment and physical fight for an equal future shines a bright colourful light through the dark realm Instagram has a tendency to take. She is also just seriously cool, her earrings and artistic flair really beam individuality – one also mustn’t forget her pet tortoise Garry, who is quite sensational.

Shonda Rhimes – Showrunner

No list about women in media can be complete without Shonda Rhimes. As the showrunner for some of the biggest shows on television, including the likes of Private Practice, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder and, of course, Grey’s Anatomy – which just made history as the longest-running primetime medical drama – her phenomenal has changed the landscape of pop culture for the better. With diverse casts and well-written stories, Rhimes has created some of the most compelling characters to grace the small screen, including Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), and Annalise Keating (Viola Davis). Rhimes’ commitment to diversity and complexity in her work makes every project one worth watching.

Ash Sarkar – Journalist

Even in 2019, it isn’t as rare as it should be to see panels on political news programmes completely made up of stuffy white men, spouting their party line or cliché sound bites with a demeanour of dour pomposity. However, thanks to journalist, academic and left-wing activist Ash Sarkar, political discourse in the media is being given the shake-up it needs. With her personable charm, sharp wit and forward-thinking ideas, she has become one of the leading voices of Britain’s socialist youth. Who can forget her heated clash on Good Morning Britain which, after she was straw manned by Piers Morgan as a devout Obama fan, ended in Sarkar proclaiming “I’m literally a communist, you idiot”? Simply iconic. Alongside her impressive TV performances, she has also been a fierce supporter of intersectional feminism, reminding people that the feminist movement can often marginalise the experiences of women of colour and can treat transgender women like the enemy. In essence, we need far more women like Ash Sarkar in the media.

Ruby Tandoh – TV Personality

After coming to prominence in 2013 as a runner-up in The Great British Bake-Off, Ruby Tandoh made her rise from reality-TV contestant to powerful culinary reformer seem like a cakewalk. An ardent critic of the food representation in the media, her work in dismantling the dangerous body-shaming often found in food writing and “wellness” culture is truly enlightening. Her decision to step down from her post at The Guardian due to the “elitist” nature of the industry, proves her convictions aren’t just filled with empty calories. If that wasn’t enough for Tandoh to earn a spot on this list, she also launched the zine ‘Do What You Want’, a publication focused on mental health, with all profits going to charity. It’s no wonder she was voted GBBO’s favourite past contestant.

Constance Wu – Actor

Best known for her role in the comedy series Fresh Off The Boat and the 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians, Constance Wu is an actress who has consistently been outspoken about social issues including sexism, whitewashing, and the lack of Asian representation in Hollywood. Wu has a history of using her social media accounts as a platform to call out social injustice and drive conversations about topics that would otherwise be brushed under the rug. Though this outspoken nature of hers has resulted in loss of offered roles and parts, it does not stop her. She declared, “I’m a woman & human first. That’s what my craft is built on.” While recently she has been less expressive on social media, Wu continues to speak on important social injustices through other channels, such as interviews, and is an incredibly inspiring and courageous woman.

Delphie Bond, Alex Gibbon, Mary Yeh & Jade Verbick

Images: Daria Kobayashi Ritch, AFP/Getty Images, Michael Rowe, zedbooks.net, Independent, Gabriel Olsen