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HBA · Anusha Imam

2023: The Year of Women Empowerment in Entertainment

Jan 16, 2024

2023 Year Of Women Empowerment Banner

Who run the world? Girls!

We’ve all heard this iconic lyric before, but it wasn’t always true. Despite the historic norm of the entertainment industry being male dominated, 2023 was the year of women-driven media breaking industry records and receiving unprecedented amounts of accolades, revenue and support. Beyonce’s “Renaissance” tour, Taylor Swift’s “Eras” tour and Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” movie are amongst the list of media which uplifted not only the economy, but women this past year.

I’m so sick of running as fast as I can, wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man. - Taylor Swift, “The Man”

From the infamous 2009 VMAs incident to present day, Taylor Swift’s journey to the limelight has been no walk in the park. Despite public controversies and arguments with other musicians, her success is highlighted in Swift’s recent tour which pays homage to her troubles, triumphs and experiences throughout her ever-growing career. Reflections and celebrations of women’s successes in music are historically lacking, with none of the 7 highest grossing tours being by female artists until Taylor’s record breaking $1 billion tour. With dancing at the concerts causing ground shaking seismic activity, it's safe to say Swift provided an enthusiastic and inspirational sense of community for women and girls to feel empowered. By catering to the underserved market of live events celebrating women’s journeys as artists in male dominated fields, the Eras tour became so prosperous despite the previous industry trends.

Basically, everything that men do in your world, women do in ours. – Barbie, “Barbie”

From astronaut Barbie to fashion designer Barbie, the nostalgic toy which was once just known as a universal relic of girlhood is now symbolic of an internationally renowned film featuring feminism and a woman-led cast. Despite Barbie being early in Gerwig’s directorial career, her creative growth throughout her films and impact on the industry is undeniable. Starting from early on in her directorial career with “Lady Bird” and then “Little Women,” Greta’s work has focused on telling women’s stories. The Barbie movie is no different, with the movie offering a sentimental perspective on girlhood and a reminder that just like Barbie did, women everywhere should be able to pursue any venture they can dream of. Renowned as “the summer of Barbie,” the movie gained traction rapidly as women and girls of all ages were united by nostalgia for their childhood and pride in being women. Beyond that, it was a collective experience for all women by openly giving voice to perspectives which were previously neglected in the film industry. By being one of the first films to unite women through the exploration of their issues in a digestible and mainstream manner, the Barbie movie set not only the record for highest grossing live action movie from a female director, but a new standard for the future of the film industry.

Stars in her eyes, she fights for the power, keeping time. - Beyonce, “Six Inch”

Quite possibly the best vocalist of the 21st century, Beyonce is no stranger to critical acclaim and successful projects. Her seventh album “Renaissance” was followed by her most extravagant tour yet, featuring unmatched creativity, homages to the Black and Queer communities, and an extensive setlist with themes of women empowerment. Both a creative powerhouse and role model to women, especially Black and racialized women who have historically faced unequal representation from awards to charts in music, Beyonce is a true trailblazer who empowers groups which are often overlooked within the industry. By providing a strong sense of community for those whom the rest of the industry seldom caters to, her project was unimaginably successful and Renaissance’s Grammy wins made history with Beyonce becoming the artist with the most Grammys. She also earned a spot the list of artists with the top 10 highest grossing tours, making her the first Black artist on the list. Her triumphs throughout 2023 have paved the way for the future’s woman musicians and set the record straight for a historically inequal industry: change is coming.

Last year, women were consistently provided role models reflective of themselves and were united in realizing the power they hold both economically and socially. These three projects didn’t dominate the entertainment industry only because they were refreshingly unique and creative while catering to underserved markets and filled with talent. They succeeded because women were encouraging each other in their demands to not be overlooked and unwaveringly supporting projects made by other women with their purchasing power. And these projects weren't the only examples either: we saw the celebration of other achievements like the success of Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla” telling one of Hollywood's most famous tales from a female perspective, or the extraordinary increase in the rates of women working behind the scenes as writers and producers, highlighting the necessity of historically male-dominated industries making space for women.

I can still remember my first time seeing the Barbie movie auditorium filled with pink outfits last summer. I could probably recite most of Taylor Swift’s setlist (and all of reputation) on demand. I remember the glee that filled me when Beyonce’s smile flashed across my TV as she won yet another Grammy. These were important experiences for me and millions of others who are not accustomed to seeing women dominating in media, because representation inspires and creates a precedent for women in every industry, with myriads of aspirations. Although there are many struggles yet to be fought, I hope the magnitude of women’s representation in 2023 instilled unapologetic optimism into not only women in the spotlight but women and girls everywhere chasing their dreams.

Here’s to doing even better in 2024.