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16 celebrities name the women they are most inspired by

In celebration of International Women's Day

celebs inspired© Photo: Getty Images
Ainhoa Barcelona
Content Managing Editor
March 7, 2022
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In honour of our International Women's Day digital issue, we asked some of our favourite stars to name their most inspiring woman in the public eye, and why.

While it's hard to whittle down just one person, celebrities from Lorraine Kelly to Nadia Sawalha shared who they admire the most, whether it's for their kindness, their philanthropy, their success, or their strength.

READ: Samantha Cameron gets candid about mum juggle and the realities of raising children in Downing Street

WATCH: Celebrating International Women's Day 2022

Lorraine Kelly

lorraine kelly and katie piper© Photo: Getty Images

Lorraine Kelly and Katie Piper

"The most inspirational woman I've ever met is the wonderful campaigner, writer and TV presenter Katie Piper. She's a remarkable woman who had to rebuild her life after a horrific acid attack in 2008. The pain she went through physically and mentally was immense, but Katie has used her experience to help so many others and set up her foundation that has changed lives.

READ: Katie Piper says equality for women is 'something we should all want'

"She's a much-loved wife and mother and has just been awarded an OBE for her charity work, which is so well-deserved. Katie is beautiful inside and out and she's one of those people who make the world a better place. I'm very proud to know her."

Sophie Anderton

sophie anderton and salma hayek© Photo: Getty Images

Sophie Anderton and Salma Hayek

"Three women are my inspiration: my mother Susan, Hollywood actress Salma Hayek, and my friend, Irish fashion designer Helen Cody. My stepfather died six years ago, and we've spent two years in a pandemic, but my mum, who's 76, has been remarkable, a true stoic who just gets on with life. When I got married in Ireland last year, she was determined to be there and flew over on her own. I thought, 'Good on you, Mum.'

"I also admire my friend Helen Cody, the couturier who designed my wedding dress. After being diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer in 2018, she underwent surgery and six rounds of chemo. What she went through and her strength to overcome it was unbelievable. Helen has since become an ambassador for ARC Cancer Support, for which she's raised over £80,000. I'm an ambassador too, and recently donated my wedding dress to the charity.

"My other inspirational woman is Salma Hayek. Her attitude to life is so refreshing. I read an interview in which she asked why it is that when women go through the menopause they're put on the shelf and not considered sexy anymore. It was the first time I'd read of any woman owning her sexuality and not being downtrodden because she's gone through menopause."

Craig Revel Horwood

craig revel horwood and camilla© Photo: Getty Images

Craig Revel Horwood and the Duchess of Cornwall

"The Duchess of Cornwall is my inspirational woman. We made headline news after dancing the cha-cha together at a Royal Osteoporosis Society do in 2009 and have been friends ever since. She's president of the charity; I'm a patron; and she's taught me a lot about how using your celebrity for good causes is a great thing to do because it spreads the word. My mother, who's 81, has suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for almost her entire life and there's no cure, but at Ieast there are ways to prevent osteoporosis, which one in two women and one in five men over 50 will get.

"The Duchess is such a lovely, fun person and I think she'll make a fantastic Queen consort. She's such a sweet lady and has been misunderstood for so many years. But she has a fantastic voice to spread the word and uses it brilliantly."

Giovanna Fletcher

giovanna fletcher and michelle obama© Photo: Getty Images

Giovanna Fletcher and Michelle Obama

"Michelle Obama is pretty amazing. She's super intelligent, super driven, she's obviously got an amazing work ethic but also has a great drive with her family too. She's definitely a woman who speaks her mind and advocates for other women and great causes. I think she's pretty amazing."

Janette Manrara

janette manrara and audrey hepburn© Photo: Getty Images

Janette Manrara and Audrey Hepburn

"My biggest inspiration in life is Audrey Hepburn. They say you're either an Audrey girl or a Marilyn girl. I'm definitely an Audrey girl. I've read so many of her books and I've watched every single one of her films. She was also a humanitarian. She was just an amazing person. And I love her style!"

READ: Janette Manrara reveals 'bittersweet' truth behind decision to leave Strictly Come Dancing

Nadia Sawalha

nadia sawalha and dolly parton© Photo: Getty Images

Nadia Sawalha and Dolly Parton

"I watched the Dolly Parton documentary the other night. I always really loved her and I learned so much. If you've never seen it you should watch it, it's quite incredible. Jane Fonda actually ends up in tears talking about how much she loves 'the Dolly' because they worked together on a film. She is totally extraordinary. She grew up in the Blue Mountains, she's one of 12 kids, she had a very, very poor upbringing, and yet throughout this documentary, she spoke with such dignity and such clarity.

"And she has a very own way of being a feminist. She is a true feminist, though maybe not in the guise that we would expect. I just think she is one of the classiest of celebrities to listen to so it would definitely have to be her.

"Not forgetting Michelle Obama too. What always rings in my ears is when she said, 'When they go low, we go high,' and I quote that all the time (though I fail almost daily with it!)"

Anthea Turner

anthea turner and esther rantzen© Photo: Alamy

Anthea Turner (left) and Esther Rantzen (right)

"I have always been inspired by Esther Rantzen. She is an incredible woman and a brilliant broadcaster, and she has achieved so much in her life. From That's Life which was ground-breaking TV at that time, to setting up Childline which has helped thousands of young people, and also The Silver Line for older people. Both are so important and she has championed these causes.

READ: Alex Scott admits she's a 'proud feminist' but more change is needed to achieve gender equality

"I remember when she lost her husband Desi. The last time they were out together was at my wedding to Grant Bovey, and I remember hearing about his death on my honeymoon. More recently, she said to me, 'I have a full diary, I could go out every night of the week if I wanted to, but what I miss most is someone to do nothing with.' Her words have always stayed with me."

Marsha Thomason

marsha thomason© Photo: Getty Images

Marsha Thomason

"Besides my mother, who is a constant source of inspiration to me, the entire female cast of Playing The Field were so inspirational. I was the youngest in the cast and being around such incredible artists such as Lesley Sharp, Lorraine Ashbourne, Brigit Forsyth and Melanie Hill, just to name a few, was a real gift. Just being in their presence inspired me both as an actor and future mother. I live my life as a feminist, I lead by example."

Natacha Karam

gina torres

Gina Torres and Natacha Karam

"I have met and am surrounded by many incredible women which makes this a hard question to answer. I'm going to respond with who is currently inspiring me the most day to day. The formidable Gina Torres. Over the last couple of years, I have become more and more in awe of the grace with which Gina does life. Gina is a prime example of inspiration and I know I become a better person by being in a community with her.

READ: Kate Garraway reveals which female royal she's most inspired by

"She is so firmly rooted and grounded on this earth whilst also holding space for magic and miracles. She is a badass who is brave and willing to be vulnerable. She is glamorous and generous and a radiant source of love. Gina has so much integrity and discipline and equally knows how to play and create abundant joy. Gina has presence and is present. She listens and she loves. She drinks the green juice and she eats the donut. From Gina, I learn about balance, in all things. My goodness am I grateful for the woman that is Gina."

Miranda Rae Mayo

miranda rae mayo© Photo: Rex

Miranda Rae Mayo

"I'm inspired by all women all the time. Two that really send me over the edge are Celeste Hirschman and Dr. Danielle Harel, the founders of the Somatica Institute in San Francisco. Not only are these women professional sex and intimacy coaches, but they're also training others to do it too (myself included). Their mission statement is centred around facilitating erotic embodiment for all people and helping individuals deepen their capacity for connection with themselves and others.

"I truly feel like the work they do is inspirational in a myriad of ways, and I am greatly inspired by their leadership style. They are powerhouses who lead vulnerably, openly and playfully. I've never experienced anything quite like it and love how it challenges my outdated ideas of what great leadership is supposed to look like."

Lisa Snowdon

lisa snowdon© Photo: Getty Images

Lisa Snowdon

"The woman that inspires me most is my mum, she is fabulous. She's quite shy - very different to me - but she's got such resilience and strength, I admire her so much."

Millie Mackintosh

millie mackintosh© Photo: Getty Images

Millie Mackintosh

"I have to say since becoming a mum, I just find all mums inspirational. I've realised how hard it is and I look at mums with lots of kids or working mums who are balancing it all and managing to look kickass while working and being a wife or mum. Those mums are my heroes."

Victoria Pendleton

victoria pendleton and stella mccartney© Photo: Getty Images

Victoria Pendleton and Stella McCartney

"I've met lots of very inspirational women in sport and beyond, and who I really look up to is Stella McCartney - just because to start with everyone thought she'd never be a fashion designer. She even worked with some big fashion houses when they said that she wasn't going to be able to make it. But now she's created a really wonderful brand that is leading the way in sustainability, in terms of the products being vegetarian. I've met her a few times, and she's a really driven, powerful, creative female force."

Johannes Radebe

johannes radebe suit© Photo: Getty Images

Johannes Radebe

"My Aunt Martha was so supportive of me and my family as I was growing up in South Africa. We were poor, but when I was taking part in dance competitions far away. She'd pay for a minibus so that my family could come and watch me. Martha was such a kind, caring woman, a nurse who looked after the whole community. You only realise someone's impact once they've passed. After my aunt died of Covid last year when she was in her late 50s, there were testimonies to her from so many people. That's when we discovered that she'd supported one of the children she'd delivered and helped them through to university. I've dedicated a dance to Aunt Martha in my new show, Freedom."

Dita Von Teese

dita von teese

Ilona Royce Smithkin and Dita Von Teese

"My guiding light was the late author and artist Ilona Royce Smithkin, who died at the age of 101 last year. She was my friend for 17 years and I valued her words of wisdom so much that I'd save her incredible messages on my answerphone so that I could hear her voice and listen to them again. She was my guiding light; when someone's lived that long they can give you perspective. When I panicked at the beginning of the pandemic because my Glamonatrix tour was cancelled, she told me: 'Don't worry, you need to take a rest, Dita. You've done all this work, now take this time to stop and reflect, and come back stronger and better than ever.' I can recommend having an older, wise, experienced woman in your life."

Carly Pearce

carly pearce dolly parton

Carly Pearce and Dolly Parton

"Dolly Parton has always been a huge inspiration in my life ever since I was a little girl. She has taught me so much over the years from her kindness and the way she treats others, to her incredible songwriting and her ability to speak from the heart in all of her songs. Her impact on myself and country music as a whole is something I'll always cherish."

Tonya Pinkins

tonya pinkins© Photo: Getty Images

"The most inspirational woman I know is Ife B Grady. She was born in Brooklyn 73 years ago. She was diagnosed with MS at 25 and told to prepare to live in a wheelchair. She rejected that prognosis and has lived with the condition by managing fat in her diet and without medication. She is a breast cancer survivor. She has had many careers, including being a librarian. She dances and has more energy than I have ever had. She makes the most stunning hand-stitched shawls and quilts and line art, and she also runs several online businesses teaching others."

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