50 Inspiring Female Film Characters (2023)

Films shape us and inspire us 🎬

When we watch a film and we feel like we identify with or aspire to be like a character we usually take some of their personality, style or interests and implement them into our own life. Whilst films give us a sense of escapism, they also help us to realise and shape our identity. Characters are created to make us think, “Hey, I want be more like her” or “I definitely don’t want to be like her at all” either way we’ll realise what we do or don’t want to be like. Which is useful!

In more recent times there has finally been an increase in the creation of wonderful women characters. These women tell stories of courage, compassion, love, loss, strength, vulnerability and determination. Theyserve a meaningful purpose, they’re not simply created to entertain us, they’re created to educate and inspire us.

The following list looks at Ditch the Label’s favourite female film characters who remind us how diverse and fantastic all women are. This list celebrates the film industry which has created such strong, sensitive, passionate, beautiful and real women on and off the screen.

If you’ve seen either one, all or none of these films, it doesn’t matter (but you should make it your mission to watch them all). Once you’ve finished reading this list you’ll be proud to be a woman!

In no particular order here’s the best and most inspiring female film characters…

50 inspiring female film characters and why we chose them.

1. Mara Wilson as Matilda (1996)

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Because she’s adopted into a really mean family who are different to her and who try and stop her from being herself. Instead of conforming to their way of life she does what she wants. Reading is what she loves and its her way of escaping reality. She’s an independent and kind little girl and she knows the difference between right and wrong. We should all try and be a bit more like Matilda.

2. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games trilogy

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Because she knows that protecting her family is the most important thing. She puts herself up for what is essentially death, instead of letting her little sister having to suffer. Katniss fights hard, she’s determined and passionate. She leads the revolution and demonstrates to us all that when something isn’t right, we should not just sit there and watch – we should get up and act.

3. Belle in Beauty and the Beast (1991) (and of course Emma Watson in the live-action version released in 2017)

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Because she knows that she’s worth way more than marrying a sexist and chauvinistic villain. She doesn’t want to be stuck in the kitchen cooking or cleaning, no thank you! She loves to educate herself and explore. She also rescues her father and takes his place as a prisoner in the Beast’s palace! The fact that Belle falls in love with her captor is besides the point – she’s still admirable!

4. Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde (2001)

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Because being a sorority queen who is feminine, blonde and pink obsessed doesn’t exclude you from anything. In this case Elle Woods follows her ex-boyfriend to Law school and says a big ‘stuff you’. Showing everyone there is more to her than her appearance. And to top it off she wins a really high profile legal battle, so yeah she’s kind of awesome.

5. All 3 leading ladies in Hidden Figures (2016)

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Because they are a group of highly intelligentAfrican-American female mathematicians who play a huge role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program. They dream bigger than anyone who has dreamed before and achieve what no-one has yet achieved. Go girls!

6. Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series

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Because she’s feisty and hardworking. And the symbolism of how she is bullied because she is a muggle represents how in our society if you’re differentit can mean you are treated unfairly. Which is totally wrong. Hermione stands up for herself and ensures she is always the best version of herself. Never letting the bullies win.

7. Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones in the Bridget Jones series

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Because she’s done all the embarrassing things we’ve all dreaded! She’s awkward, hilarious, cringeworthy and just fabulously human! She always tries her best but life just always gets in the way. But you know what’s great about her? She always picks herself up and gets on with things. She has fun and doesn’t take life or herself too seriously. We all need to be a bit more like Bridget!

8. Emilia Clarke as Louisa Clark in Me Before You (2016)

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Because she cares for someone who’s disabled and depressed. She tries to improve his life and shows us how being selfless is rewarding. She also shows that love can come in all shapes and sizes regardless of your circumstances. She also shows us that in life when you love someone you may need to support what they want, even if it means it will upset you.

9. Ruby Barnhill as Sophie in The BFG (2016)

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Because she’s a strong-willed foster child who doesn’t follow the rules, if she wants to stay up late and read then she will! She also meets a very large strange man and once she’s over the initial horror she develops a friendship which is really cute and pulls at the heart strings. And together they savethe children of London! So she’s kind of a hero.

10.Susan Sarandon as Louise inThelma and Louise (1991)


Because she does something she feels she must do, albeit it’s extremely crazy. But it’s because she loves her best friend and can’t let evil things happen without consequences. Their friendship is admirable and they’re just two gorgeous gals with fantastic style too. The epic ending is also the stuff of best friend dreams (or perhaps nightmares) either way it’s a classic girl power film!

11. Ellen Page as Juno MacGuff in Juno (2007)

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Because she falls pregnant and just deals with it. She’s not ready for motherhood but she’s ready to be strong for the little baby growing inside her. And seeing her be so strong in order to help others is inspiring. She could take various other routes, some easier, some harder, but she chooses the one she thinks is best for her. And if you live your life by that rule, you’ll be ok.

12. Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

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Because she’s just a fabulous kooky character and we can all relate to her in so many different ways. Whether you love sleeping with your eye mask on, you’re a socialite or you’re a cat lover, you’ll find a common ground with Holly Golightly and just admire her independence, style and sophistication.

13. Kiera Knightley as Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean series

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Because she defies her fathers expectations and dons the pirate outfit pretty fantastically oh and she also helps fight off some pretty questionable characters. She doesn’t take c**p from anyone and she manages to put Captain Jack Sparrow in his place. Kudos to you Elizabeth!

14. Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (1939)

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Because she is sensitive and kind to her new friends and together they embark on an epic adventure, which will help her, but also help her new friends. This shows us how when we meet new people we don’t know what journey they might be on but we should all help each other get to the destination, not hold each other back.

15. Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins (1964)

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Because she is fabulously independent and feisty and also warm and kind. The perfect mix. Plus, she models good behaviour to the childrenand teaches them life lessons and that’s something we all need to continue to do so we ensure we raise wonderful, kind, caring and happy children.

16. Embeth Davidtz asMiss Honey in Matilda (1996)

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Because she’s the best teacher ever to exist in the whole entire world. She cares about all her school children and especially the vulnerable, like Matilda. She saves Matilda from the wretched Wormwood family and takes her under her loving wing and treats her as if she’s her own child. What a beaut! Let’s all be more like Miss Honey and look out for the vulnerable in society.

17. Emma Stone as Skeeter Phelan in The Help (2011)

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Because she wants the voices of the African American maids’ to be heard loud and clear! She sees the hardships they suffer on a regular basis and she doesn’t believe this should go unnoticed. Standing up for and helping those in terrible situations is what we should all try and do more often.

18. Jennifer Hudson as Effie White in Dreamgirls (2006)

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Because she goes through many hardships but doesn’t let it ruin her. She picks herself back up again and continues to follow her dreams. Let’s all remember that what doesn’t break you makes you stronger!

19.Ellen DeGeneres as Dory in Finding Dory (2016)

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Because despite her memory loss, she doesn’t let that stop her from finding the one thing she wants – her family. She’s sweet yet sassy all at the same time and without meaning to be. She isn’t afraid of going to the far lengths in order to meet her dreams.

20. Anika Noni Roseas Tiana inThe Princess and the Frog (2009)

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Because Tiana is a Disney princess who actually resonates with a modern society. It’s not just about falling in love in this film, Tiana has a dream to set up and run her own restaurant. She gets on with it and makes her dream happen on her own terms. This is a great story about setting goals and achieving them due to your own efforts. Believe in yourself like Tiana!

21. Abigail Breslin as Olive HooverinLittle Miss Sunshine (2006)

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Because she dreams of being a pageant girl and even though she might not be what is portrayed in the media as perfect she still goes for it! She’s confident, super cute and hilarious too. She shows us that doing what we want and not caring what people think is the way forward. We all need to take a leaf out of Olive’s book.

22.Parminder Nagra as Jess Bhamra in Bend it like Beckham (2002)

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Because she doesn’t conform to her cultural pressures and she does what she wants. She plays football and doesn’t simply do what’s expected of her. She also breaks those gendered stereotypes we so often see! Guess what? Women play football too! Duh!

23. Emma Stone as Olive in Easy A (2010)

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Because she stands up to the bullies who are slut shaming her and actually uses it to benefit her! She also uses her position to help others. She’s clever, self-assured and funny. But we do also need to remember to make sure we put our own happiness first and not let our own reputation suffer due to helping others. Sometimes it’s important to be a bit selfish.

24. Melissa McCarthy as Susan Cooper in Spy (2015)

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Because she has no confidence and puts herself down. She worships her boss and lets him walk all over her. Then she realises she’s worth more than that. So she does what she’s always wanted to do. Even though it seems terrifying to begin with she gets through it. She experiences ups and downs, but she’s brave and committed and never gives up. Let’s be like Susan Cooper!

25. Kristen Bell as Anna in Frozen (2013)

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Because she loves her sister unconditionally and realises something isn’t quite right so she does something about it. Sure, she might be royalty but she doesn’t let that stop her from getting her shoes muddy (or should we say snowy). Go Anna! Remember, even if you’re a princess (which we all are) don’t let things get to your head, stay grounded.

26. Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side (2009)

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Because she takes care of a disadvantaged youth who’s struggling in life. She provides him with the love and support he needs to succeed in what he’s good at. Teaching us to be more caring and utilise our advantaged positions; those more fortunate should always help those less fortunate in society.

27. Audrey Tautou asAméliein Amélie(2001)

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Because even though she doesn’t have much she devotes her time to helping others and doing acts of kindness in order to make other people happy. This is something that we all need to try and practice a bit more, no matter how big or small let’s act in a way which will make people happy. Although, remember to never neglect your own needs and desires in the process.

28. All the girls in the Pitch Perfect series

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Because they’re all unique and fantastic in their own weird and wonderful way! They’re a real life representation of a young group of girls, which is refreshing to see in comparison to the ridiculous representations of girls we see in many other media outlets. They come together and boss a capella and in the process help each other through life’s challenges.

29.Auli’i Cravalhoas Moana(2016)

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Because firstly, it’s about time we see more diversity in animated film (well film in general needs more diversity – but I guess that’s a whole other topic). Young Moana bravely sets off on an ocean adventure to save her people and in doing so she realises that persistence and hope will let her accomplish what she needs to. Lesson learnt; be persistent and hopeful and you’ll meet your ambitions.

30. All the women in Suffragette (2015)

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Because the story is such an important part of our history, it shows us why women have so many of the many rights and freedoms we have today, the vote being the most significant!

31. Audrey Tautou as Gabrielle ChanelinCoco before Chanel (2009)

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Because she starts off in life as an orphan, showing that she works hard to better her future. She also doesn’t want what many other women of her time want. She want’s independence, she’s ambitious and she strives for her goals to be met. She’s a classic ‘started from the bottom now we here’ type of girl. You go (Glen) Coco!

32. Olivia Newton-JohnasSandy in Grease (1978)

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Because she goes from being Sandra Dee and ends up as Sandy.She realises that her sweet and innocent little girl persona might not be who she is anymore. So she tries to find herself, trying a new style and personality and realises who she really is! Also, she just looks insane in that catsuit and definitely has the moves to go with it!

33.Kelly Macdonaldas Merida in Brave (2012)

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Because she’s fiery (no, we don’t just mean her hair) and she knows what she wants, to be an individual and carve her own path in life. She gets herself into a bit of trouble though from being so strong-willed but instead of running away from her problems, she deals with it herself. What a boss.

34. Liesel Matthews as Sara in A Little Princess (1995)

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Because she brings excitement and fun to the girls boarding school. She rebels against the mind-numbing activities the headmistress forces them to engage in and instead uses her imagination to create beautiful stories filling the young girls minds with hope and warmth. She knows that all girls are princesses no matter what. And even if life changes for the worse, Sara remains strong.

35. Amy Poehler as Joy inInside Out (2015)

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Because Joy tries to ensure that Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness don’t take over Riley’s brain during a challenging time! Joy knows that she’s what’s best for Riley but has to make sure there is a good balance of emotions, because that’s healthy. This shows us how we need to make sure the negative emotions don’t take over our minds, easier said than done, but worth trying!

36. Julie Andrews as Maria in The Sound of Music (1965)


Because she’s the mother figure the Von Trapp family needs and she gives the children more than they ever thought they’d have. Lots of kindness, understanding and fun. She was initially judged but then when the family realise how great she is, they go back on their initial judgments. Teaching us that we need to give people more time to shine and not quickly judge them.

37. Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

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Because she is stubborn, headstrong, brave and loyal. She proves she’s a fighter and she gets on with it. We like you Rey!

38. Aileen QuinnasAnnie (1982)

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Because she’s an orphan who is charming and positively changes the direction her life is going in. She’s also just super cute and hilarious.

39. Quvenzhané WallisasAnnie (2014)

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Because this up to date version celebrates diversity! Yay!

40. Daveigh ChaseasLilo in Lilo Stitch (2002)

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Because Lilo takes in an abandoned Stitch and befriends him. She teaches him how to behave and develops him emotionally. She teaches us that if someone comes along who seems a bit strange and a bit crazy at first (maybe a younger sibling) we should try and model good behaviour, showing them how to behave, instead of being mean to them just because they don’t know any better.

41.Ming-Na WenasMulan (1998)

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Because she does something very selfless in order to protect her father and pretends to be a man so she can join the army. She is stubborn, strong and talented and she becomes one of China’s greatest heroines.

42. Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich (2000)

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Because she’s unemployed and a single mother but is determined to get a job. She then becomes a legal assistant and in the process essentially takes down a gas and electric company. One word. Hero.

43. Shashi Godbole as Sridevi inEnglish Vinglish (2012)

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Because she is fed up of feeling excluded so she acts on it. She learns English but also learns other things along the way. Teaching us that if we are unhappy with something or we want something to change, we should act on it.

44. Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max (2015)

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Because she’s determined to survive and return to her homeland and will not let anything get in her way. Showing us that during terrible times we need to stay brave and focussed if we want something.

45.Nikki Blonskyas Tracy TurnbladinHairspray (2007)

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Because she knows that things aren’t right and she wants them to change. She teaches people about integration and shows us if you’re in a position of influence, then you need to use that power to promote positivity.

46.Kalki KoechlinasLaila in Margarita With A Straw (2014)

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Because this young woman with cerebral palsy shows everyone that her disability will not define her or stop her from doing what she wants. She embarks on an adventure and finds love and most importantly, herself.

47. Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in the Sex and The City film series

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Because she is a really good friend to her best friends. She is also really sophisticated, stylish and fun. She wears her heart on her sleeve and she isn’t afraid of getting hurt. She lives life to the full and she’s independent. She enjoys her own company just as much as being with her friends. Teaching us to enjoy ourselves and have friends because we enjoy them not because we need them.

48. Hilary Swank as Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby (2004)

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Because she teaches us that being tough isn’t just for men! Duh! It’s for us all, if you want to box, then box. Don’t let your gender define what you can or can’t do. She wants something and she gets it. She works hard and never gives up on her dreams.She says a big stuff you to the gendered stereotypes we constantly see and makes it her mission to achieve her goal!

49.Lizzy Caplanas Janis Ian in Mean Girls (2004)

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Because she doesn’t conform to gendered stereotypes, she acts and dresses how she wants. She doesn’t admire the “Mean Girls” like everyone else at her school does and she actually tries to sabotage their cliquey and damaging behaviour. In turn, after everything going a bit crazy, it all ends up ok in the end. Showing us, we need to stand up to bullies!

50. All the women inBridesmaids (2011)

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Because they’re all just fabulous women who represent us all and our fabulous unique qualities. They also show us that nobody is perfect and we’ve all got our strengths and weaknesses and weird and wonderful ways! But as long as you’re doing you the best you can, then that’s all that matters. And the message of the film is that as women we all need to unite and raise each other up, not hate on each other because of jealousy.

Got any more to add? Post them in Community!


Who is the most powerful female fictional character? ›

10 of the Most Powerful Female Characters in Literature
  • Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre.
  • Hermione Granger, the Harry Potter series.
  • The Wife of Bath, The Canterbury Tales.
  • Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games trilogy.
  • Hester Prynne, The Scarlet Letter.
  • Éowyn, The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
  • Lyra Silvertongue, His Dark Materials trilogy.
Dec 25, 2012

Who is the most important character in a movie? ›

Undoubtedly the most crucial type of movie character in a story, the protagonist, is a fancy word for the "main character." Conventionally, we meet the protagonist, aka the star of the story, at the beginning of a story and follow them through a series of trials and tribulations before leaving them in a new form at the ...

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10 Influential Women in history
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  • Katharine Graham (1917-2001)
  • Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)
  • Helen Adams Keller (1880-1968)
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Who are some female heroes in history? ›

  • Marie Curie, 1867–1934.
  • Rosa Parks, 1913–2005.
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  • Ada Lovelace, 1815–52.
  • Rosalind Franklin, 1920–58.
  • Margaret Thatcher, 1925–2013.
  • Angela Burdett-Coutts, 1814–1906.
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Who is the best female action hero? ›

Most Famous Female Action Heroes in Film
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  • Anamaria (Zoe Saldana) ...
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What is a perfect female character called? ›

What does Mary Sue mean? Mary Sue is a term used to describe a fictional character, usually female, who is seen as too perfect and almost boring for lack of flaws, originally written as an idealized version of an author in fanfiction.

Who is the most liked movie character? ›

James Bond

The iconic character first appeared on the big screen with Dr. No (1962) and most recently in the film No Time to Die (2021).

What are the 7 types of characters? ›

The 7 Types of Characters In Stories and Literature
  • Protagonist. Every story has a protagonist, even if there's only one character throughout the entire book. ...
  • Antagonist. Where there's a protagonist, an antagonist must follow. ...
  • Deuteragonist. ...
  • Tertiary Characters. ...
  • Romantic Interest. ...
  • Confidant. ...
  • Foil.
Jun 29, 2021

What are the 14 character types? ›

Here's a list of 14 character archetypes:
  • The Leader.
  • The Outsider.
  • The Caregiver.
  • The Rebel.
  • The Mentor.
  • The Professor.
  • The Warrior.
  • The Hunk.

Who is the most beautiful fictional character? ›

Over on theCHIVE Instagram, we asked you to tell us which gorgeous fictional characters tickle your fancy and the answers did not disappoint.
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Who are the feminine power characters? ›

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Who is the most influential fictional character? ›

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Who is the inspiring woman who changed the world? ›

Marie Curie (1867-1934)

Not only was French and Polish physicist and chemist Marie Curie the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, but she also won the award twice (and is the only woman to do that, too). Curie discovered the elements radium and polonium, which became monumental in research for cancer treatment and cures.

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1. Queen Elizabeth II – Monarch of the United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning monarch in British history and had wielded a ton of political power over world affairs for more than 65 years now. She was crowned in a global broadcast at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953, when she was just 27 years old.

Who is a well known female American hero? ›

Harriet Tubman

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Who was the first female movie hero? ›

As Ripley in Alien (1979), Sigourney Weaver arguably birthed the female action hero. Her character's ferocity rejected tired stereotypes. Perhaps that's because the role was originally written for a man, and director Scott Ridley has said little changed about the character after Weaver was cast.

Who is the queen of action movies? ›

Milla Jovovich was at the forefront of the modern era of women commanding the screen as action stars.

What is a hero female actress? ›

a woman who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal: Name two women who have been heroines in your life. the principal female character in a story, play, film, etc.

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Heroine refers to a female protagonist. Champion is another synonym of protagonist.

How do you describe a strong female character? ›

A strong character has a personality trait that mesmerises readers. Readers want to believe they could be that character if they were put in that situation. They may even want to be that character. She could be brave, loyal, self-confident, intelligent, focused, charming, or compassionate.

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Your Attractive Character is the person your audience will connect with. Think of Jared from Subway, Gary Vaynerchuck from VaynerMedia, or Oprah. The Attractive Character is the person that will prove to your audience that their goals, dreams and ambitions are possible.

How many main characters are female? ›

The percentage of films featuring female protagonists was 31%. 57% of films featured male protagonists, and 12% had ensembles or a combination of male and female protagonists. Females accounted for 35% of major characters.

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  • Mary Shelley: 1797 – 1851. ...
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What is the strong female character trope? ›

What is a Strong Female Character? “The Strong Female Character trope often shows us the 'underlying deficit of respect the character starts with, which she's then required to overcome by whatever desperate, over-the-top, cartoonish means to hand'—just to bring herself up to the man's level.” (Cristea, 2015).

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  • Amélie Poulain. ...
  • Axel Foley. ...
  • Jack Burton. ...
  • Katniss Everdeen. ...
Aug 10, 2020

Who is the most iconic characters of all time? ›

Mickey Mouse (1928) Created by Walt Disney and Ub Iworks for Steamboat Willie. James Bond (1953) Created by Ian Fleming for nov el Casino Royale. Bugs Bunny (1940) Created by Warner Bros and originally voiced by Mel Blanc. Batman (1939) Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane for Detective Comics #27 (DC Comics).

What are the 100 characters? ›

Answer: 100 characters is between 14 words and 25 words with spaces included in the character count. If spaces are not included in the character count, then 100 characters is between 16 words and 34 words.

What are the 8 special characters? ›

A special character is a character that is not an alphabetic or numeric character. Punctuation marks and other symbols are examples of special characters. Unlike alphanumeric characters, special characters may have multiple uses.

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They are:
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  • The Antagonist.
  • The Confidant.
  • The Love Interest.
Jan 29, 2017

What are the 5 special characters? ›

What symbol is on the 5 key? On U.S. keyboards, the 5 key is on the same key has the percent sign (%).

What is a 15 character? ›

Answer: 15 characters is between 2 words and 4 words with spaces included in the character count. If spaces are not included in the character count, then 15 characters is between 2 words and 5 words.

What characters are special characters? ›

A special character is one that is not considered a number or letter. Symbols, accent marks, and punctuation marks are considered special characters. Similarly, ASCII control characters and formatting characters like paragraph marks are also special characters.

What is the main female character? ›

The most likely answer for the clue is HEROINE.

Who is the best character in the world? ›

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The 100 Greatest Movie Characters
  • Luke Skywalker.
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi. ...
  • Shaun Riley. ...
  • Vito Corleone. ...
  • Amélie Poulain. ...
  • Axel Foley. ...
  • Jack Burton. ...
  • Katniss Everdeen. ...
Aug 10, 2020

What are a ladies character? ›

A lady models civility in how she treats others. She demonstrates respect, restraint, and personal responsibility in her appearance, behavior, and communication. She is honorable, and values and respects others. A lady is well-mannered and knows what is appropriate.

What makes a female character likeable? ›

A likable female character is tactful and keeps things to herself. She is morally upright and questions nothing while questioning everything. She sometimes behaves unethically and often makes mistakes. She understands that the truth is both mutable and immutable.

What makes a good female character? ›

Give her strengths: A good female character will have strengths. This doesn't mean she needs to be physically strong. There are plenty of other strengths your character can have: intelligence, charisma, intuitiveness. The strengths readers can't physically see are some of the best, because they can be unexpected.

Who are the 3 main characters in Mean Girls? ›

It centers on females and how they act at that certain age. The four mean girls, Regina George, Gretchen Wieners, Karen Smith and Cady Heron represent the stereotypes of the popular girls of high school. The role of gender plays an important role in the movie.


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