By The Nerdling
With On the Basis of Sex, the biopic of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s early days fighting for gender equality, being released in the United States over Christmas, I started thinking about just how few women get biopics made about them. Many of the films which tell the story of an extraordinary woman have been about actresses, musicians, or artists. And that is not a bad thing. Stories about women who have led brilliant lives should be told. But I feel as if not enough movies have been about women whose contributions to society lead to great changes, like the changes RBG has made. Like the changes she is still making.
These following women need a biopic (or a better one than what they have already been given):
Born a slave, Truth eventually gained her freedom when she took her infant daughter and escaped when the family patriarch reneged on his promise to free her just as her home state of New York was moving to abolish slavery. After leaving, she found out her former owner illegally sold her son to a plantation in Alabama. She took him to court and became the first African American woman to win a court case against a white man. Truth became one of the first women abolitionists and is famous for her “Ain’t I a woman?” speech given at a women’s rights convention.
Susan B. Anthony
The most prominently known civil rights activists and Suffragette in the United States. Anthony played a significant role in getting the 19th Amendment (women’s right to vote) ratified. She is also the first woman to be depicted on United States currency.
Yes, there was a TV movie made about her, but Mrs. Parks deserves the big screen treatment. There is a lot more to Parks than her refusal to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. She willingly became a figure of civil rights in a time when it was dangerous for those who stood up to unjust segregation laws. Her actions led to a city-wide bus boycott. After her arrest and subsequent trial, Parks continued to fight for civil rights. She worked as a campaign assistant and secretary for Congressman John Conyers. She participated in the Selma-to-Montgomery Marches. She served on a “people’s tribunal” which investigated the killings of three African American men by police during the 1967 Detroit riots. Parks lived to help others.
Another one on this list who has had a movie (more than one, actually) made about her already, but 2017’s Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge was a by a numbers biopic and Madame Curie was made in 1943. Both films also didn’t focus on the science. Curie is first woman to win the Nobel Prize as well as the first person and only woman to win it twice. And she is the only person to earn it in two different sciences, physics and chemistry. Curie earned the honors for her groundbreaking research in radioactivity (she also coined the term radioactivity). The second Nobel Prize came after discovering two elements, polonium and radium, during her studies of radioactivity. Curie had to battle xenophobia in her adopted home of France (she was born in Poland). She was vilified by the far-right press for being an immigrant all while making France the leader in scientific discoveries at the turn of the century.
In the world of science, Franklin is known for her work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA which lead to the discovery of the DNA double helix. After her work on DNA, she continued her studies of RNA viruses which affected crops. Both of her studies lead to others winning Noble Prizes in Medicine and Chemistry. Both groups wanted her to be included in sharing the prize, but Franklin had died several years before at the young age of 37 from ovarian cancer, and the Nobel Prize committee does not make posthumous nominations. There was a play, Photograph 51, based on her contributions to science with a limited run in 2015 and starred Nicole Kidman. It would be great if that could be moved to the silver screen. Kidman would be amazing to reprise the role.
Founder of the Green Belt Movement, an environmental organization, and a woman’s rights activist, Maathai is the first African woman and first environmentalist to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her “contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace.” The Kenyan born activist was elected to her home country’s Parliament in 2002 where she served as assistant minister for Environment and Natural resources. In her early ears of activism, her husband filed for divorce stating she was “too strong-minded for a woman” and slandered her in the courts. When she called out the judge presiding over her divorce case for corruption in an interview, she was sentenced to jail. Her husband sued her again to get her to drop his surname. Thumbing her nose at him, she added an extra “a” instead of changing her name.
There are so many more women I could name, but the stories of these six women would make amazing biopics. Polititians, scientists, activists. Wives, mothers, daughters. These extraordinary women made big changes to the world and women need to see and hear these stories. I’m putting the challenge to you Hollywood! Make these films! Show the lives of these world changing women.
And go see On the Basis of Sex this Christmas!
The Nerdling was born in the majestic land known as Texas and currently resides there after several years of journeying through Middle Earth in a failed attempt to steal the one Ring from that annoying hobbit, serving the Galactic Empire for a time, and then a short stint as a crew member on the Serenity. Since moving back to her homeland, Nerdling flirted with a hero reputation. Saving children from the dangers of adoring domineering, sparkly vampires (champions with souls are the only vampires worth loving) and teaching normals the value of nerdom, all while rooting for her beloved Dallas Stars. Then came the Sokovia Accords and her short spell of saving others came to an end. With Darth Vader’s reputation rightfully returning to badass status, Nerdling is making her way back to the Empire. They do have cookies, you know. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.