Ostensibly, International Women’s Day was created to eulogise the struggle for women’s rights, acknowledge the contributions of great women to social, economic, technological and political growth globally. It is a celebration of female independence and also a time to examine what makes us joyfully, gloriously female.
This ranges from the serious to the seemingly banal, but as we all know we are multifaceted AF and we are allowed to quote Proust, enjoy Dostoevsky, revel in Chimamanda Adichie, scream along to Cardi B, and employ vertiginous heels, a facebeat and (in the words of a very wise woman) a ‘Freakum Dress’ as weapons and still be wholly, uncompromisingly and unapologetically woman. Or you can enjoy none of these things.
To celebrate this moment of peak DGAF, we have compiled a list of badass characters in TV and film who exemplify this apparent dichotomy and who aren’t afraid to burn it all the way down. These characters are inspirational in their realness, rawness and their intrinsically human vulnerability.
Abimbola Craig as Tiwa in Skinny Girl in Transit
Vacillating between acerbically witty and rib-achingly funny, Abimbola Craig’s Tiwa is one of the most fleshed out characters on the slew of webTV shows in Nigeria. Portrayed as candid, fiery and often times showing a gut churning vulnerability on her journey to love and weight loss, the character is relatable and clearly no one’s damsel in distress.
Danai Gurira as Michonne in The Walking Dead and Okoye in Black Panther
My sh*t never stopped being together.
Ruthless and relentless as Michonnne. Fiercely loyal as the legendary leader of the Dora Milaje, Okoye in Black Panther. A stunningly brilliant strategist, cool headed in crisis and endlessly pragmatic in both roles. Danai Gurira is no stranger to playing strong women. And even more importantly she is a woman of colour in a position of authority in a predominantly white cast, something still not common on TV.
Madina Nalwanga as Phiona Mutesi in Queen of Katwe
Mama, can you do big things from such a small place?
This endearing, almost universally charming tale of a chess champion born in a slum in Uganda triumphs over brutal limitations, deprivation and generally grim circumstances. However, the most mesmerising thing to see is Phiona’s emergence from her chrysalis – she starts off learning chess barely literate, watching her eventual command of one of arguably, the most cerebral games known to man is awe-inspiring.
Issa Rae in Insecure
Black women aren’t bitter, they’re just tired of being expected to settle for less
No one character on Insecure is without its flaws or layers. We’ve watched Issa grow from a struggling relationship to exploring herself and her place in the world as a single, black millenial and as painful and awkward as that journey can be, we certainly love her for sharing it.
Yvonne Orji as Molly in Insecure
I embrace who I am. I do what I want and I do not give a fuck what anybody thinks.
Molly’s duality is one that is probably familiar to many single, thirty-something women. She is a boss at work and takes no s— from anyone but her personal life is significantly less cut and dried. It’s messy and confusing, but what we love most? The loyalty and love she has for her BFF’s and her ability to check Issa on her BS. Unequivocally (and vice versa) is priceless.
Taiwo Ajayi Lycett as herself in King Woman
I don’t believe in luck; I believe you make your luck. You make your own way, you create your own fortune and I’m not talking about money. You create your own path, you take your own journey. Nobody is gonna lead you anywhere. And [if] you spend your time waiting for somebody to do it for you, you are wasting time.”
Incandescent, is the best way to describe Taiwo Ajayi Lycett’s no-holds-barred interview in the critically acclaimed King Woman series. In a show stacked with powerful, riveting women with incredible personal stories, hers stands out – not only for the breadth of experience shared but the sheer wit and wisdom of the exchange and the underlying joy, even when tragedy struck.
Beverly Naya as Rosie in The Wedding Party
…but I haven’t even given you your wedding present yet.
This may be a controversial choice but we find it significant that in a society where we demonise a woman’s sexual agency it was liberating to see her character Rosie, just be. Moral judgments aside, watching a woman unabashedly own her body in a very traditionally Nigerian setting was well, refreshing. Villain or not, we high key enjoyed Rosie’s OTT sexuality.
The entire cast of An African City
I don’t even want things. I can buy my own things, I want things I can’t buy. (Maame Adjei as Zainab)
If we were looking for a new set of besties, we’d want to start in Accra with the characters from Nicole Amarteifio’s An African City. Oft compared to HBO’s Sex and the City, it is our staunch belief that though it bears similarities at first glance, An African City – possibly by virtue of its setting, delved far deeper into crucial questions of womanhood including empowerment, ownership, the African patriarchy and quite critically, exploring the characters – oft defined by their male relationships or lack thereof, without them.
Who’s your favourite character? Sound off in the comments below!