Anita Hill, Halima Aden and More on the Women Who Inspire Them

Serena Williams and Gigi Hadid at Glamour's Women of the Year Awards.
Getty Images
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: "My best friend, because she occupies her space in the world without apology."
Getty Images
Iskra Lawrence: "I think interestingly, there’s different women in my life who have inspired me at different moments, you know when you’ve needed it, and I try to gravitate toward that. So definitely right now, I actually have quite a new crop of friends that I’ve only known for a year or two. One of them is Ibtihaj Muhammad, she’s become a huge role model to me, she’s taught me so much because her experiences are so different from mine, so I’m just trying to absorb that all and learn empathy and think before I make any assumptions about anyone, because you just don’t know, and how could you possibly know if you’ve never had that experience?

Also, Cameron Russell. At the Summit her speech was all about [how], not just as models, but as women we’ve been silenced, and how important it is for us to use our voice. That just really hit home and without even knowing it made me realize she was the person who made me believe as a model I could do more, that I could have a voice, that I could be something more than a 2D image."

Getty Images
Ibtihaj Muhammad: "As an athlete, I always say Serena Williams because I love her. I feel like without seeing her growing up I probably would have a hard time envisioning myself in this space."
Getty Images
Advertisement
Anita Hill: "One woman who inspires me the most, it’s cliché but it’s my mother. I will tell you exactly why it’s my mother, because my mother taught me many things, she wanted to be sure I had an education. The most important message that I take from my mother is to believe in the things that don’t seem possible now and work hard to make them possible. She did that by raising thirteen children to believe that they were going to have better have opportunities in the future. They’re all older than I am, they grew up with gender bias and racial bias in Jim Crow Oklahoma and she taught us to believe and prepare for a better world. That’s what I’m dedicated to, making sure that every person who is disadvantaged can believe in a better world and be ready for it when it comes."
Getty Images
Dawn-Lyen Gardner: "I have to go with my mother. It sort of oscillates between her and to be honest one of my sheroes is also my show creator, Ava DuVernay. She’s always the one that’s immediate in a public space, but in a personal space, my mother. She taught me to say 'I can.' I really never heard from her 'you can’t do that.' I never heard from her 'it’s not possible.'

I think that is maybe the first line of defense of not pursuing your dreams is just believing that it’s possible. I think that that’s something that women have struggled with. I think that this year is a big landmark in our confronting and pushing past what we feel possible, including standing up for our own safety and for each other’s wellness. My mother is the one who really instilled that in a way that’s unshakeable. I think Ava embodies those, again in a public space more than almost anyone that I can think of because she’s so absolutely sure and so confident in standing and speaking truth to power. She is constantly inspiring others to do the same in their own way, in their own version. I think she’s someone who is committed to honoring spaces that don’t get honored often with the complexity and depth they deserve. She will forever be one of my sheroes."

Getty Images
Halima Aden: "My mom, I know everyone says that, but she’s really inspiring. It takes a strong kind of woman to leave everything behind, go to a refugee camp to a country she’s never been in, then decide 'I want something better for my children, I’m going to take a chance and migrate to the United States.' Even now, it’s hard because culturally being a model and being a Muslim, it’s not something that you see a lot of, she still let me take that chance and learn for myself and let me pave my own road."
Getty Images
Advertisement
Billie Eilish: "My mom. I feel like, if I was my daughter, I don’t know what I would do, I just wouldn’t be able to handle myself. She’s just so in it for everything, even if I’m the worst person, or I feel horrible or I feel great, she’s always there to handle it and take care of me which is really inspiring.

And Rihanna. It sounds basic because everyone would say Rihanna because she’s so amazing, but I can’t lie. It’s just her look, her stamina and her strength, and her mental, she’s such a bright person, she knows what she’s talking about all the time."

Getty Images
Chloe x Halle

Chloe Bailey: "My mom, my sister and my nana as well. My nana had breast cancer a few years ago, she doesn’t have it anymore but just seeing how strong she was in that moment and how strong she is now inspires me everyday. With my sister, she’s a year and a half younger than me and she still has to do school and balancing that with music and as we’re on set, acting. She inspires me completely. I love her."

Halle Bailey: "I would definitely have to say my mother and my sister. My mother most importantly because how hard she works for us, she’s so amazing and watching her everyday inspired us to grow into the women we are today. Definitely my sister, who is an amazing producer, she inspires me with how such a sensitive and beautiful, soft person can make such hard beats, it’s so cool to me."

Getty Images
Sara Sampaio: "Adriana Lima, she really inspires me with how she’s had such a long career. She’s such an incredible, sweet person. She’s just an inspiration, everything she does is just incredible."
Getty Images
Advertisement
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh: "How can I not say my mother? I think that’s just a testament to how much women are the ones leading the way, the ones raising the next generation. My mother is a refugee, so to me it’s especially important to elevate her story because without stories of courage like hers, I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be able to have a platform for my voice. I’m the founder of Muslimgirl.com. It’s the most visible platform in the country for Muslim women’s voices and our whole prerogative is to reclaim our narrative in the media, to show that Muslim women talk back. It’s all about women’s empowerment, it’s about reclaiming that conversation that’s been happening all around us, but never really including us for so long. It’s something that I started when I was a teenager because of the fact that I felt so alienated from society and it’s something that I think that a lot of Muslim girls need today, now more than ever. It’s really poetic that we ended up growing up to become our own role models and we ended up creating a generation of new role models for these younger girls that are on the come up right now, facing all this adversity, for them to be able to look up to and have as their support."
Getty Images
Caissie Levy: "I know this is going to sound corny but I’m a new mother, so I’ve been looking at my mom with fresh eyes these days. I’ve been baffled by her grace and her juggling act—she had three kids at my age, I have one. She’s always been the woman for me that I look to but especially now in my life, seeing her in a new light has been really cool. And I have to say, I really am impressed and blown away by all the female producers on Broadway. I work on Broadway primarily and there’s a lot of actresses who I love and admire on the business end of things who are hanging with the men and pulling their weight and then some. The directors, the producers, the woman who are forging their way in a field where it’s traditionally male led has been very inspiring to watch."
Getty Images
Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson of “Guys We F**ked, The Anti Slut-Shaming Podcast”

Krystyna: "The most inspiring woman in my life is my mother because she’s always had the most amount of empathy of anyone I’ve ever met in my life. She has had to endure many hardships including being adopted and 25 different surgeries and she’s always done it with a sense of humor. So she’s taught me to really laugh at the dark shit in life, which I take with me and try to do at all times."

Corinne: "For me it fluctuates. It’s Hillary Clinton, my mom, the Spice Girls. Right now I’m going to go with Marcia Clark, that’s who I’m really feeling right now."

Getty Images

Remembering where you came from, quite literally, is always important. Even when you’re walking down the red carpet.

Glamour Women of the Year attendees had no problem pulling together a personal list of honorees, the special people in their lives who are worthy of the Woman of the Year title. Observer caught up with some of the celebs on the event’s red carpet last night, to get their insight on the women that inspire them and, spoiler alert, a lot of them got it from their mama.

Almost every single attendee paid homage to their mothers, quoting her as the most inspirational woman in their lives. Many of the bold names attending the event are mothers themselves including Nicole KidmanPat Cleveland, Anna Wintour, Yolanda HadidSolange, Erykah Badu and Drew Barrymore.  

“Gigi, you’re one of the few people on this planet I would leave my baby for one night,” new mother Serena Williams said, during the awards ceremony.

Click through to find out about the women behind the women at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards. 

Must Reads

We noticed you're using an ad blocker.

We get it: you like to have control of your own internet experience.
But advertising revenue helps support our journalism.

To read our full stories, please turn off your ad blocker.

We'd really appreciate it.

How Do I Whitelist Observer?

How Do I Whitelist Observer?

Below are steps you can take in order to whitelist Observer.com on your browser:

For Adblock:

Click the AdBlock button on your browser and select Don't run on pages on this domain.

For Adblock Plus on Google Chrome:

Click the AdBlock Plus button on your browser and select Enabled on this site.

For Adblock Plus on Firefox:

Click the AdBlock Plus button on your browser and select Disable on Observer.com.

Then Reload the Page