Female celebrities are mostly known for acting, music or modelling careers while their more inspirational contributions to understanding and improving our world are less well known. At Rare Birds, we seek out inspirational women, and we firmly believe you can’t be what you can’t see and as humans sometimes we don’t see the full picture. Helen Keller said, “the only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision”. So here are 5 inspirational celebrity women that we want to make more visible for their less celebrated but no less inspirational and meaningful achievements.
Who should one look up to as an inspiration?
1. Hedy Lamarr
“Hope & curiosity about the future seemed better than guarantees. The unknown was always so attractive to me…and still is.”
Mostly remembered for fleeing Nazi-occupied Austria and her film roles as a seductress. Despite this, Ms Lamarr’s greatest and most inspiring contributions to our society were not her film career, but her inventions. She is listed as the co-inventor of spectrum-hopping technology that enabled the Allied Torpedoes to be more accurate. This same technology is critical to modern day inventions including WiFi and Bluetooth. Without a doubt, Ms Lamarr is so much more than the pretty face she is remembered for.
2. Shirley Temple
“There are many of us who should be in a position to bring peace to the world.”
When most people hear “Shirley Temple,” they think of “America’s Sweetheart,” the little girl with the curls and big dimple. After Shirley Temple’s acting career, she went on to become one of America’s leading diplomats. She was the US ambassador to the United Nations, Ghana, and Czechoslovakia. She is credited with being a key player in bringing the end of communism in Czechoslovakia. On the domestic front, she was the first female Chief of Protocol of the United States overseeing the inauguration arrangements for President Jimmy Carter. In her own words, “”There are many of us who should be in a position to bring peace to the world. … Most of the people in Ghana wouldn’t know me as an actress. They’d know me for my work at the U.N.”
3. Danica McKellar
“If anyone tells you it’s impossible to be fabulous and smart and make a ton of money using math, well, they can just get in line behind you – and kiss your math.”
Known for her TV roles including playing Kevin Arnold’s girlfriend Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years and more recently the Chief Intelligence Agent on the Netflix series Project MC2. However, her contributions to the field of mathematics are incredibly inspiring. During her time as a Mathematics student at UCLA, McKellar coauthored a peer-reviewed paper that introduced the Chayes-McKellar-Winn theorem. Yes, an actress best known for her role as a girlfriend has a mathematical theorem named after her. She is also a New York Times bestselling author for her numerous books on mathematics targeted at teen girls.
4. Mayim Bialik
“Well, I mean, I’m still a scientist, you know. I think once a scientist, always a scientist.”
Best known as Blossom on Blossom and Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on the Big Bang Theory. Mayim is able to bring true authenticity to her role as Neuroscientist Amy because in real life Mayim has a PhD in Neuroscience. Additionally, Mayim has written three books, including a New York Times bestseller, and is a staunch feminist.
5. Natalie Portman
“I’d rather be smart than a movie star.”
An Academy Award for Best Actress winner, Natalie Portman is considered to be one of the greatest actresses of our time. She has appeared in countless films. And she contributed to incredible psychology studies during her time at Harvard University. She was a contributor to a memory study entitled “Frontal lobe activation during object permanence: data from near-infrared spectroscopy.” When asked about her time at Harvard, Ms Portman told the New York Post “I’d rather be smart than a movie star.”