March 8 is International Women’s Day, a global day of recognition celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and girls, and raising awareness of the work left to be done. Here are some female game-changers who glistened in 2019.
The Canadian Game-Changers, Culture-Makers & Boys’ Club-Crashers Who Owned 2019
1. Bianca Andreescu, Champion, Mississauga, ON
2. Lilly Singh, Late Night NKOTB, Los Angeles
Rocking sneakers and a bold pinstripe suit, Lilly Singh opened her first late-night talk show in a way Seth Meyers or the Jimmys never could: with a rap boasting, “I ain’t a white man.” The fact that Singh is the first openly queer non-white man to land a mainstream late-night show dominated headlines this year. (“The media has mentioned that I’m a bisexual woman of colour so often I’m thinking about changing my name to Bisexual Woman of Colour,” she quipped in her first monologue.) But the proud Scarborough native is a trailblazer not only because of her race or sexuality, but because she’s also the first viral content creator to crossover into network TV. At 30, and with a legion of followers behind her (14.9 million on YouTube), Singh came into her show with unprecedented youth and power she translated into a gender-balanced and diverse writers’ room. Her pledge to “throw some melanin up in your late night,” had its detractors (some justified) and the show has been met with lukewarm reviews, but A Little Late with Lilly Singh proved that late night is finally catching up to the times.
3. Jody Wilson-Raybould, Renegade, Vancouver
It was the scandal heard ’round the country, but the SNC-Lavalin affair wasn’t enough of a mishap for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals to lose the election. It did, however, cost them a key player, one whom they used as a shining example of diversity in the party. Jody Wilson-Raybould, the B.C. MP hailed as “the woman who fought Justin Trudeau” by the BBC, was Canada’s first Indigenous attorney general before she was demoted to minister of veteran affairs. Next, she was unceremoniously kicked out of the Liberal caucus for publicly revealing that Trudeau and his team had pressured her to be lenient on Quebec company SNC-Lavalin during its trial for corruption. Wilson-Raybould went toe-to-toe with the most powerful men in the country, stood her moral ground, and came out a winner. Literally. She ran as an independent in the recent federal election and retained her seat in Vancouver-Granville, making her the only party-free MP in the House of Commons.
4. Catherine O’Hara, Icon, Toronto
A few years back, it would have felt safe to assume that 65-year-old Canadian comedy legend Catherine O’Hara’s career-defining performances were in the rearview: Her work in the Christopher Guest movies, the time she left her son home (alone!) for the holidays. But that was before Moira Rose — the delightfully madcap matriarch whose vocabulary would make a thesaurus blush and whose wardrobe is now on display at the Smithsonian. O’Hara’s performance has been essential to Schitt’s Creek’s global success — earning her first-ever Emmy nomination for a lead role and a September 2019 Vanity Fair headline that read, “Can Schitt’s Creek’s Moira Rose Please Host the Emmys?” Memo to the TV gods: There’s always next year.
5. Lesley Hampton, Runway Revolutionary, Toronto
6. Jessie Reyez, R&B Rebel, Brampton, ON
7. Haviah Mighty, Hip-Hop Heavyweight, Brampton, ON
8. Sarah Edmondson, Cult Whistleblower, Vancouver
9. Catherine McKenna, Nobody’s Barbie, Ottawa
10. Taylor Russell, Scene Stealer, Vancouver
11. Celine Dion, Comeback Queen, Everywhere
12. Brittni Donaldson, Hoop Dreamer, Toronto
13. Margaret Atwood, OG Bestseller/Oracle, Toronto
14. Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, NDP Rising Star, Iqaluit
15. Gigi Gorgeous, YouTuber Extraordinaire/Owner Of 8,000 Lip Glosses, Los Angeles
16. S.K. Ali, Literary Game-Changer, Toronto
17. Domee Shi, Oscar Winner, Toronto
18. Karla Welch, Image Maker, Los Angeles
19. Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Eco Activist, Vancouver
20. Brooke Lynn Hytes, Queen of Qweens, Toronto
21. Naomi Klein, Author/Climate Warrior, New Jersey
22. Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Netflix’s Next Big Thing, Mississauga,
23. Maayan Ziv, App Developer, Toronto
24. Aurora James, Shoemaker To The Stars, Brooklyn, NY
25. Luna Ferguson, Trans Trailblazer, Vancouver
26. Jessi Cruickshank, The Cool Mom, Los Angeles
27. Cobie Smulders, Ass-Kicking Actor, Los Angele
28. Ananya Chadha, Teen Genius, Toronto
29. Winnie Harlow, Model Mogul, New York
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