We all have idols or people we look up to for inspiration and motivation. With the amount of work you have to do as a dedicated performer, it never hurts to have someone to look up to as you focus on giving your best efforts on a daily basis. Regardless of strides made in equality for women in the arts, it’s still sometimes hard to make it as a female performer. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still make every moment in your career worthwhile! At the New York Film Academy, we encourage aspiring musical theatre artists to pursue big dreams and to improve on professional-level skills every day. So, for inspiration, we’re giving you examples of insanely powerful women in musical theatre anyone can look up to:
Queens, New York native Idina Menzel became a smash-hit in “Wicked” as Elphaba and an international sensation starring as Elsa in Disney’s “Frozen.” Her performance of hit song “Let It Go” won an Oscar, and she became the first person to have both a Tony Award and a Billboard Top 10 song. Menzel originated the role of Maureen in “Rent,” which she reprised for the 2005 film adaptation.
Menzel also co-founded the organization A BroaderWay Foundation, dedicated to helping girls in low-income areas experience the arts while building leadership skills, developing self-esteem, and teaching girls to dream big.
Known for starring as Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton in “Hamilton,” Phillipa Soo won a Clarence Derwent Award in 2015 for Most Promising Female Performer as well as a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical. She’s also the winner of a Tony Award and a Grammy. Oh, and did we mention she also provided some vocals for the “Moana” soundtrack? To top it off, she’s only 26!
Nikki M. James
The actress who played the original Nabulungi in “The Book of Mormon,” Nikki M. James has won a Tony Award and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle award. After her time with “The Book of Mormon,” James landed the competitive role of Éponine in the 2014-2015 run of “Les Misérables.” She has also had roles in “Law and Order: SVU,” “The Good Wife,” “The Blacklist,” and “Brain Dead.”
Starring alongside Idina Menzel in “Wicked” as Glenda (or Galinda) Upland, Kristin Chenoweth is not only a musical theatre actress, but also a singer with six albums, a voiceover actress, a film and TV star, and more. She has also won an Emmy, a Tony Award, and other performance awards throughout her 26 year career. Chenoweth is 48 years-old and still enjoying a vast and busy show-life. Her hometown in Oklahoma named the local theatre “The Kristin Chenoweth Theatre” after the multi-talented actress. She also partnered up with the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center (BAPAC) Foundation to support the arts in her home state.
Who are your favorite women that inspire you in musical theatre? Let us know in the comments below! And check out NYFA’s musical theatre programs.