Paula Patton as Billie Holiday
As an aspiring singer, Holiday suffered sexual abuse, struggled with a drug habit and encountered racism everywhere. But the late Lady Day—one of the first African American women to sing with an all-white orchestra—translated all of that pain into some of the most achingly personal songs ever recorded. (Download “Strange Fruit,” which she sang at her 1948 Carnegie Hall concert, and listen for yourself.)
“You can imagine that women at home hearing her songs on the radio felt her vocalizing their emotions and their struggles.”—Paula Patton, 33, of the upcoming drama Push, wearing Holiday’s trademark gardenia in her hair
Chanel Iman as Althea Gibson
After years of playing segregated tennis, the late Althea Gibson tore down the color barrier of competition in 1950, when, at age 23, she became the first African American to compete in major U.S. championships—and, in 1957, the first to win Wimbledon. In her crisp whites, “the Jackie Robinson of tennis,” as she was known, won 11 major titles.
“She showed women…you can be sweaty, be gorgeous and do a great job.”—Chanel Iman, 19, cohost of MTV’s House of Style.
America Ferrera as Dolores Huerta
A fierce advocate for migrant farmers, Huerta cofounded, with César Chávez, what became the United Farm Workers of America. In 1975 she played a critical role in enacting policies that allowed workers to bargain for better wages and conditions. Today, at age 79, Huerta continues to be active—last year she campaigned for Hillary Clinton’s presidential run.
“She saw her own opinion and voice as [something as] powerful as any man’s.”—America Ferrera, 25, of ABC’s Ugly Betty, holding a sign that reads “strike” in Spanish
Lindsay Lohan as Madonna
In 1984 Madonna told American Bandstand host Dick Clark that her dream was to “rule the world.” Months later she was on her way—her album Like a Virgin skyrocketed to number one on the Billboard charts. She’s been a pop-culture powerhouse ever since, and last year, Sticky & Sweet was the highest-grossing tour by a solo artist ever.
“When I was little, every day after school I would come home and put in her The Immaculate Collection disc and karaoke to it around the whole house.”—Lindsay Lohan, 22, of the upcoming film Labor Pains, re-creating Madonna’s 1984 MTV Video Music Awards performance of “Like a Virgin”
Alicia Keys as First Lady Michelle Obama
Not only is Obama the first African American filling the position, but she’s already making best-dressed headlines for a style that ranges from couture to J.Crew. Raised in Chicago, Obama, 45, powered on to Princeton and Harvard Law School before beginning a career during which she met, mentored and married our current President. Hail to our newest smart, opinionated, chic First Lady!
“She has worked hard for everything she’s accomplished, and done so with grace and humility. So many women and girls can identify with her story.”—Alicia Keys, 28, whose most recent album is As I Am.
Source: Glamour Magazine
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