A year of female empowerment in the arts

Claire Foy, Danielle Deadwyler, Emma Corrin, Michelle Yeoh, Jennifer Lawrence and Michelle Williams are all successful actresses in Hollywood, giving numerous award-winning perfomances. // Photo courtesy of Danielle Levitt

This past year has been one of the most important years in the entertainment industry. Not only has it evoked thought-provoking and jubilant moments for audiences, but it has also had large economic benefits. The successful year was made possible because of the contributions of female leaders in the industry. 

In 2023, the highest-grossing film of the year was “Barbie” directed by Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”). Through the film, Barbie (Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”) explores different aspects of femininity. She sees that not everything is as perfect as it is made out to be in Barbie’s world and how the real world contains both  suffering and joy . Along her journey in the real world, she meets Gloria (America Ferrera, “Superstore”), and together, they bring to light the everyday parts of life that are often taken for granted. 

The female-led film made an impact far beyond the box office. It delivered themes of women empowerment, allyship and the idea that coexisting can create a well-balanced society. The ground-breaking film sparked conversations throughout society on women’s roles and social expectations. 

In addition to the “Barbie” movie, two more Academy-Award nominated films also starred female leads. For her role in “Poor Things”, Emma Stone (“La La Land”) won both a Golden Globe and an Oscar. “Killers of the Flower Moon” star Lily Gladstone (“Certain Women”) became the first Native American woman nominated for Best Actress. 

Recently, Forbes magazine published a list of the highest-earning actors. Of the top names, Robbie was second and Jennifer Aniston (“Friends”) was sixth. 

2023 was a year with powerful female-driven films that also had meaningful themes. This will create a stepping stone for future years and generations to follow. 

Another area within the entertainment sector that had a record-breaking year was the music industry. This was highlighted by two main concerts: Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour and Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour. 

Swift has always been a role model for fans of all ages. With over 150 concerts and her large fan base, she has broken the record for the highest-grossing music tour in history, surpassing one billion dollars in revenue. Swift’s tour consisted almost entirely  of sold-out NFL stadiums. Her concerts are full of energy with three hours of non-stop performances showing the full admiration of her fans in attendance. Swift also released a film version of the concert. “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” became one of the highest-grossing films of the year. 

She has also continued to make headlines with her albums. To regain ownership of her music, Swift has been re-releasing her albums over the last few years. In 2023, she re-released multiple albums and was greeted by many of her old songs coming back and dominating the Billboard charts. Additionally, for large portions of the year, Swift’s “Cruel Summer” stayed in the top songs, including appearances at number one. 

Beyoncé continues to not only be a role model for females of all ages but also for the Black community. Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour became the seventh-highest-grossing concert of all time and the second-highest female concert, behind the Eras Tour. Like Swift, this was also an all-stadium concert. 

Her tour brought in over half-a-million dollars. The Renaissance tour had over 50 shows with each being nearly three hours of elegant costumes and set designs. As a result of the great response from the audience, Beyoncé also released a film version of the concert. Recently, she announced her upcoming album “Act II” and released the single, “Texas Hold ‘Em” from the album. The song has quickly risen to become one of the top songs on the Billboard charts, including appearances at number one. 

While many previous generations grew up following the likes of Michael Jackson and Prince amongst others, it is inspiring to see the current generation able to see female stars such as Beyoncé and Swift reach the pinnacle of the music industry. 

Many up-and-coming music stars are female voices set on revolutionizing the future of the industry. The biggest new artists represent a more diverse group,with artists like Ice Spice, Karol G, Sabrina Carpenter, Kim Petras and more. One of the biggest and most anticipated concerts of the year is Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS tour. 

For the biggest celebration of the year in music, the Grammys, a majority of its performers were female, with performances from Dua Lipa, SZA, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo and more. The majority of award categories were  filled with female artists. For example,  in the record of the year category, six of the eight
nominees were women. 

The talent of the music sector is a testament to women’s excellence and ability. The current stars have much more promise left and the rising stars will continue to overturn the industry’s expectations and pave a way for years to come.

The successes of the past year are just a taste of what’s to come, and the achievements of each woman will solidify themselves in the memory of the ever-changing entertainment industry.