As we all know, it takes a powerful woman to make a lasting impact on society.  And, in Hollywood, it takes a really powerful woman to play a powerful woman!  In celebration of Women’s History Month, this special edition of Wiles Films takes a look at some of our favorite big and small screen portrayals of some of history’s most fascinating women!


10. Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford – Critics have called it campy, but few films from have given audiences more memorable moments and oft-quoted lines than the 1981 film Mommie Dearest.  And, thanks to Faye Dunaway’s unforgettable portrayal of screen legend Joan Crawford, it’s likely that wire hangers will never be the same!

9. Jennifer Lopez as Selena Quintanilla – This 1997 bio pic put Jennifer Lopez on the map – starring as Mexican-American singing sensation Selena Quintanilla-Perez.  Whiles Selena was sadly snuffed out before she could achieve crossover stardom, the former Fly Girl Lopez would go on to become an A-Lister traversing the worlds of music, film and television.

8. Ingrid Bergman as Golda Meir – Ingrid Bergman won an Emmy Award (posthumously) for her turn as one of the most powerful female heads of state the world has ever witnessed – former Prime Minister of Israel Golda Meir.  In this clip, we’ll see a snippet from her 1982 made-for-television film A Woman Called Golda, as well as her daughter Pia Lundstrom’s  acceptance speech on Emmy night.

7. Jessica Lange as Patsy Cline – While Meryl Streep may have been the producers’ first choice to play country music star Patsy Cline, it was Jessica Lange who ultimately turned in a breathtaking performance portraying her in the poignant 1985 Tri-Star offering Sweet Dreams.

6. Halle Berry as Dorothy Dandridge Over the years, many actresses and singers vied for the coveted role of playing African-American screen siren Dorothy Dandridge.  In 1999, sex symbol Halle Berry bested them all by executive producing and starring in the HBO film Introducing Dorothy Dandridge and introduced a whole new generation to the first African-American woman nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award.

5. Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo The object of men’s affections all over the globe, Salma Hayek has been known, for years, for her amazing beauty and sultry voice.  The stunning Salma transcended her image as a style icon when she donned the humble clothes and uni-browed countenance of legendary artist Frida Kahlo in the 2002 film Frida.

4. Diana Ross as Billie Holiday It may have been Diana Ross’ acting debut, but the hit-making icon wowed audiences and critics, alike, with her portrayal of troubled and talented singer Billie Holiday in 1972’s Lady Sings the Blues.  Her impeccable renditions of Lady Day’s classic tunes like “Good Morning Heartache” were equaled in acclaim by her acting as Ms. Ross went on to garner an Academy Award nomination for her performance in the film.

3. Angelina Jolie as Gia Carangi – During the late 1970’s, there were fewer faces in the fashion world that were more distinct or sought-after than Philadelphia-born model Gia Carangi.  It is fitting then, that for HBO’s screen adaptation of her life, the incomparable Angelina Jolie – who would go on to win an Emmy for her portrayal – was cast to bring the screen version of Gia to life.

2. Angela Bassett as Tina Turner Both Angela Bassett and her co-star Laurence Fishburne would garner Academy Award nominations in the 1993 film What’s Love Got to Do With It, but it was the sculpted Angela Bassett in her portrayal of singing legend Tina Turner who truly owned the stage and the screen.

1. Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher In her Academy Award-winning turn as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 2011’s Iron Lady, Meryl Streep shatters gender barriers and holds the power of the United Kingdom during the difficult Cold War years firmly in her hands.

Did one of your favorite female-driven bio pics not make our list? If so, please “Join the Conversation” and let us know which power player you think deserves top props!

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