A 'True Role Model to So Many': 10 Inspiring Women That Every Celebrity Loves to Love

These powerful women have inspired millions — including these celebrities — to become the very best versions of themselves

01 of 10

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah's Favorite Face Masks
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Winfrey's influence on American culture cannot be disputed. From hosting one of the highest rated talk shows for over 20 seasons to receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the history-making entrepreneur and philanthropist has inspired countless lives, including some of Hollywood's most successful stars.

In a speech for Winfrey's 50th birthday, John Travolta told the star, "You represent the best of our country and what's possible in our country. But, more importantly, you are a citizen of the world, and you are a hero to mankind. So we are better for knowing you, Oprah." Julia Roberts spoke to Extra in 2011 about Winfrey, saying, "I've made a lifelong friend in that woman. I think she's one of the highlights of humankind. I'm lucky that she's my pal."

02 of 10

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton in 2016. Getty

One of the most beloved celebrities of all time is still doing her best to unite and heal the world through music and philanthropic deeds. On the star's 75th birthday, which took place this year on Jan. 19, she was celebrated by stars including Jamie Lee Curtis, Maren Morris, Jimmy Fallon and Reese Witherspoon, who tweeted to Parton, "Your bright spirit and passion for helping others shines through in everything you do."

Goddaughter Miley Cyrus said it best in her tribute to Parton in honor of her making the TIME 100 Most Influential People of 2021 list.

"Have you ever met anyone who doesn't love Dolly Parton? I never have," Cyrus wrote. "Dolly is not only my idol because of her incomparable career — she's also my role model because of her steadfast morals and values. At her core, she is the definition of a humanitarian."

03 of 10

Meghan Markle

Meghan markle
Meghan Markle. Chris Jackson/Getty

From an acting career to royal life to motherhood, Markle has shot into a realm of fame known to very few. This unique journey has earned her the admiration of many as she's moved forward into a career of philanthropy.

Following the release of her March interview with Oprah Winfrey, during which she spoke about her experience with the royal family, celebrity admirers, like George Clooney, Billie Jean King, Leslie Jordan, came to her defense, and shared how much of an impact she's made on their lives. Close friend Serena Williams tweeted her feelings, writing, "Meghan Markle, my selfless friend, lives her life - and leads by example - with empathy and compassion. She teaches me every day what it means to be truly noble."

04 of 10

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

The late Supreme Court Justice, who fought tirelessly her entire career for equal rights, was an inspiration to all. Upon her death, her fellow Supreme Court Justices shared their tributes to the liberal icon, who died at 87 due to complications of metastatic cancer in September 2020. Thousands of mourners gathered at the U.S. Supreme Court to pay their respects, as kind words poured in from celebrities, presidents and people from all over the world.

"Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the kind of scholar and patriot you get excited about explaining to your kids. The kind of person who you say 'who knows, one day you could be HER.' I hope you rest well, RBG, you must have been tired from changing the world," Mindy Kaling shared on Twitter.

"For so many of us, Justice Ginsburg was a real-life superhero: a beacon of hope, a warrior for justice, a robed crusader who saved the day time and again," Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon told PEOPLE.

"Playing her on SNL was a profound joy because I could always feel the overwhelming love and gratitude that the audience had for her. It was one of the great honors of my life to meet Justice Ginsburg, to shake her hand, and to thank her for her lifetime of service to this country," she added.

05 of 10

Sandra Oh

Sandra Oh poses backstage during the 33nd Annual Tibet House US Benefit Concert & Gala on February 26, 2020 in New York City
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The actress and trailblazer, who was the first Asian person to host the Golden Globes and first Asian woman to win multiple Globes, is treasured by her peers and the art-loving community. Killing Eve creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge gushed to TIME about Oh, calling her "brilliant."

Shonda Rhimes also told the outlet, "One of the greatest gifts of my creative life has been the opportunity to write words to be spoken by Sandra Oh. The reason is simple: Sandra Oh is a virtuoso. She treats dialogue like notes of music—every word must be played, every syllable correctly toned. She's always been an extraordinary actor. Her body of work makes that clear."

06 of 10

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling. Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Beverly Center

If you've caught yourself laughing to the point of tears while watching a show on TV or Netflix, the likelihood of Kaling having a hand in the writing is extremely high. The star's ability to create unforgettable characters and her insane work ethic has resulted in countless successful shows — including The Office, The Mindy Project, and her latest, Never Have I Ever — plus a whole generation of young people who want to be just like her.

In conversation with Access Hollywood in April 2020, the three stars of Kaling's latest Netflix series, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Lee Rodriguez and Ramona Young, sat down to discuss what it was like to work with Kaling.

Ramakrishnan explained that Kaling's ability to guide actors on-and-off camera was one big acting lesson, adding that "she created this world that we could really grow in and learn from."

"She definitely made me feel more comfortable in my own skin," Young shared. "Having this idea of someone that does all these things — you image them to be someone so different than you. And then when you meet them they're like, 'Oh.' She makes you believe that you could possibly do this, too."

"And that's a good feeling," Rodriguez added.

07 of 10

Malala Yousafzai

Co-founder of Malala Fund and a Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai poses for a photo backstage during Massachusetts Conference For Women 2019 at Boston Convention Center on December 12, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Malala Yousafzai. Marla Aufmuth/Getty

The Nobel Peace Prize winner and lifelong advocate for girls' rights and education has inspired all of Hollywood to want to hear her story and contribute to her efforts. In 2013, Angelina Jolie donated $200,000 to the Malala Fund to help send girls as young as 5 years old to school, ABC reported. David Beckham called Yousafzai a "true role model to so many people" in 2015, alongside a picture of the two he posted to Instagram, and Justin Bieber took a screenshot of his FaceTime with Yousafzai in 2015 to share how her story had inspired him to want to get involved.

"Just got to FaceTime with Malala Yousafzai," Bieber captioned his post. "She has such an incredible story. I can't wait to meet her in person and talk about how I can support her and the @malalafund. #love"

08 of 10

Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah. Michael Kovac/Getty Images

There isn't a creative genre Latifah hasn't conquered, which is why she is truly the Queen. Her incomparable career spans music, acting, comedy and Broadway, and in June, she was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2021 BET Awards.

MC Lyte described the star as "a woman who has been creating magic for decades — an undeniable, unstoppable force of nature." Taraji P. Henson, who hosted the ceremony, told PEOPLE, "I'm grateful that we're giving Queen Latifah her flowers while she's still alive. This is an award that is long overdue for her. She taught me that it's more to acting than just being in front of the camera."

09 of 10

Serena Williams

Serena Williams
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She's not just one of the greatest athletes of all time, bringing a new level of excellence to tennis. She's also fought for women's rights, given back to the communities that helped raise her, all while building her own media and fashion empire and being mom to daughter Olympia. She's a modern-day hero to so many, including a whole host of A-list celebrities.

Fellow Compton, California native Kendrick Lamar told Sports Illustrated, "Being a youngin' in middle school and hearing about Serena and Venus; it was crazy for us. That inspired me, to know that she comes from where I come from and now she's in front of television cameras everywhere doing what she's doing. Not only doing it, but doing it at the highest level possible."

Off-White founder and Louis Vuitton menswear designer Virgil Abloh told CNBC, "My interest in fashion isn't sort of about clothing, it's about people. And I think [Serena's] beyond, you know, an amazing athlete. She's a muse of a generation."

10 of 10

Beyoncé Knowles

Beyonce Knowles
Beyonce Knowles-Carter. Dave Benett/WireImage

Knowles' celebrity fan base could not be more passionate about the star and everything she's contributed to music and pop culture.

"It's like, normal for everyone to love Beyoncé, but I love her more than that amount, like more than the normal amount," Taylor Swift revealed to Kiss FMUK in 2015.

"I had kind of lost faith a little bit in meeting artists in the business - and then I met Beyoncé. She is a real, real woman. I have never laughed so hard on a video set in my life. We had the best time doing 'Video Phone,' " Lady Gaga told MTV.

"Oh my gosh, I just want Beyoncé to be the mother of my children," Blake Lively told E! about the star's 2013 Super Bowl performance. "She was amazing. I can't, I can't even. I don't even have words for her."

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