Incredible Women

23 Incredible Women Of 2023, In Their Own Words

As the year draws to a close, we look back at 23 Incredible Women – actors, activists, singers, writers, models, founders and scientists – who have shared their personal, often profound thoughts with us over the past 12 months and offered words of wisdom

In order of appearance: Este Haim (wearing black top), Adwoah Aboa and Emma Seligman

Este Haim, singer-songwriter

“It’s so important to surround yourself with women who empower other women and support women… And I think it’s a feather in our cap whenever there’s a win, right? It’s a feather in everyone’s cap.”

Adwoa Aboah, model and activist

“We know mental health is not a linear journey or experience. I do all that work every single day. I got sober when I was 22. I spent my twenties sober amongst people who weren’t sober. I have to think and live and breathe my moods every single day.”

Emma Seligman, writer and director

“I’m tired of only feeling seen on screen and only being represented when I’m being forced to think deeply about my identity. And I just think that queer audiences deserve a break and deserve to see themselves while not having to use their brain too much… being able to see themselves while also laughing.”

Gigi Hadid, model and founder of Guest In Residence

“I have learnt a lot about being assertive, which doesn’t make you a bitch… As long as you do what comes naturally, which is not to be rude, you can say how you feel – and sometimes you have to do that to get things done.”

Gigi Hadid

Iman, model and founder of Iman Cosmetics, Skincare and Fragrances

“There is a power in speaking up… Talk is cheap, but who shows up? Who’s going to stand up and say, ‘I’m gonna be right with you when you’re protesting’?… Even if you aren’t necessarily in a position of power, you have a say about things.”

Aaron Rose Philip, model

“The confidence journey I’ve been on has been significant. I love myself more now than I ever have, but I have had to go through so much to get here. To be confident is to love yourself, to enable yourself the pleasure of expressing your true self to the world around you.”

Auli’i Cravalho, actor

[To her future self] “I’ll be honest: at 22, you are in love. Love love. They hold and cherish you in a way that lets your guard down and scares the ever-loving shit out of you. I hope you still love this way.”

Ally Maki, actor

[To her grandmother] “I am in awe of you and the legacy of women who came before us. They left sparks destined to blaze, forever shifting what’s possible for women of color. Grandma, you are my muse and my strength, and I am determined to continue to tell our stories that will live on through characters onscreen.”

In order of appearance: Aaron Rose Philip (wearing pink top), Auli’i Cravalho and Ally Maki

Anne Hathaway, actor

“When I started out [in this industry] as a child, I was warned that my career would fall off a cliff at the age of 35, which is something I know a lot of women face… The thing that has evolved during [that time] is that more women are having careers deeper into their lives, which I think is fantastic.”

Anne Hathaway
Hari Nef

Hari Nef, actor and model

“I’ve never met anybody who I look at and go, ‘Oh, that’s what I want to do in exactly the way I want to do it.’ There are so many women who have, and people who have, paved the way for me. But so much of what I want to do doesn’t have a precedent.”

In order of appearance: Chase Sui Wonders (wearing cream halterneck dress), Mia Mckenna-Bruce (with son Leon) and Sinéad Burke

Chase Sui Wonders, actor

[To her future self] “Hopefully you’re still engaging in a healthy amount of human interaction, looking back fondly at your much younger self and remembering your brief stint with mutism. I hope you’re still telling stories about people on the fringes, about outsiders and misanthropes.”

Mia Mckenna-Bruce, actor

[To her newborn son] “Leo, a lion might be strong, powerful and fearless, but you do not need to be any of those things. Strength can be found in vulnerability and empathy. True power is in kindness and respect for others. And fearlessness isn’t about an absence of fear, but the courage to confront it and grow from experiences.”

Sinéad Burke, writer, educator and founder of Tilting the Lens

“As a Disabled woman, language has been fundamental to my agency and independence; it has been a useful tool in explaining my ambitions and needs to an audience who might otherwise make assumptions about who I am and what I can do.”

Gillian Anderson, actor and founder of G Spot

[Pleasure] is a right. It’s not trivial. It’s not frivolous. We’re trying to encourage women to let go of the shame, the guilt, the negative messaging around it.”

Gillian Anderson
Hong Chau

Hong Chau, actor

“I don’t think awards are the best way to gauge whether we’re making progress. I always look at it as, are there more opportunities for people to learn the craft? There should be this healthy ecosystem for all levels of people in it.”

In order of appearance: Lisa Taddeo (wearing glasses) and Kiara Nirghin

Lisa Taddeo, writer

“Going into Three Women and talking to these women who had lost love, or just felt completely and utterly unheard and unseen in the world, I wanted to make them feel less alone – and I, in turn, hoped that their stories would make other women feel less alone.”

Kiara Nirghin, scientist

“I think there’s this mindset shift for young women that not only do you belong in the science and technology sector, but you can push it forward – you can pioneer it.”

Shailene Woodley, actor

“I’ve always loved getting older, but it’s almost like I feel an exhale; I’ve been waiting so long to experience not giving a fuck about what other people think about me and my life and the choices I make. I’m so excited to continue letting go of so many of the things that controlled me in my twenties; to really experience the joy of life in a way that, when you’re younger, is more difficult to experience – because it’s controlled by the way you were raised instead of the identity that you create as your own person.”

Shailene Woodley
Zoe Saldaña

Zoe Saldaña, actor and producer

“I want others to shine. I want to be that pioneer who creates the stage so that others can step on it and be who they need to be.”

Candice Carty-Williams, writer

“Being a strong Black woman is a scam. It doesn’t serve us. It serves others. It allows people to lean on and rely on you with no limitations or boundaries. It’s vulnerability that tells people who you are. Vulnerability is how to connect with others and yourself, how to tell stories; it’s how to be and feel real.”

Munroe Bergdorf, writer, activist and model

“Racism is different from misogyny, which is different from homophobia, which is different from transphobia, but when people take our power away because of who we are; when they challenge our right to be who we are, it is an infringement on our being. As humans, we need to recognize that oppression is oppression, and when we see that happening, we need to ensure that we fight for other people as if we’re fighting for ourselves.”

Aditi Mayer, climate activist

“We know the solutions that exist. However, we need to re-inspire a feeling of collective stewardship of the planet and its communities, so that when the time comes and we look back at this window of action, we don’t ask: who was asleep at the wheel?”

Soma Sara, activist

“By platforming the voices of survivors, we are flipping the script, uplifting the voices of those who have been silenced, who have never spoken openly about their stories, traumas and experiences.”


In order of appearance: Candice Carty-Williams (wearing black dress), Munroe Bergdorf, Aditi Mayer and Soma Sara