Fifteen women, including Madeleine Albright and Nancy Pelosi, talk frankly about the challenges of reaching their goals in a new PBS documentary

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
August 20, 2015 02:00 PM
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Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Talk about girl power.

Fifteen of the most influential women in the country come together to discuss their sometimes fraught path to success in American Masters: The Women’s List, which premieres on PBS next month.

In an exclusive First Look, Alicia Keys, Shonda Rhimes, Wendy Williams and Gloria Allred are just a few of the women who talk frankly about the challenges they faced as they attempted to reach their goals in a male-dominated world – and how they overcame them.

“If you’re gonna tell me I got something because I’m a woman, well, thanks,” Williams, 51, says. “But I’m going to show you that I would have gotten it anyway.”

The hour-long program by filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders includes intimate interviews with women who are all considered trailblazers in their field, with a list that extends to former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Spanx founder Sara Blakeley, designer Betsey Johnson, pilot Nia Wordlaw, comedian Margaret Cho and actresses Edie Falco and Rosie Perez.

Toni Morrison opens the documentary with a reading she wrote specifically for the hour-long film, which features so many women explaining their fearlessness.

“If I was breaking a rule it was because I thought the rule didn’t make any sense, and I was perfectly happy to explain that to someone,” says Rhimes, 45.

Elizabeth Holmes, the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire, also shared the secret of success that she gleaned from influential women before her.

“Wherever there is a glass ceiling, there’s an iron woman underneath it,” she explains.

American Masters: The Women’s List premieres Sept. 25 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS.