Every week, a different female celebrity exclusively tells us her biggest girl crushes for #WomanCrushWednesday. This week, Katherine McNamara is sharing her list — and she’s got a ton of big Hollywood names on it.
1. My mother, Ursula
My wonderful, beautiful, strong, caring mother. She has been my rock my entire life. We have been through hell and back together and she has stood by me and my dreams through it all. She is a scientist by training and has fought her way through a field dominated by men, which has been a huge inspiration to me in pursuing another career that requires perseverance. Her emphasis on intelligence and the value of education have been invaluable in showing me by example what it means to be a confident, strong, educated career woman.
2. My grandmother, Nickole
My irreplaceable, courageous, kind, creative grandmother. My grandmother is the matriarch of my family. As a career, she ran emergency rooms of several very busy hospitals. I kid you not when I say this woman has seen it all. She is always able to find something to smile about in any situation and treats every person she meets with generosity and kindness. She has also inspired me to follow my creative passions, as in her retirement, she is a watercolor artist. Seeing how happy her work made her as I was growing up gave me the courage to pursue my own creative passion.
3. Elaine Stritch
Elaine Stritch was one of the most amazing women I have ever met and I believe I ever will meet. She taught me to never be afraid to truly be myself, and to speak my mind. Elaine was one of the most hardworking and talented individuals I have ever come across. She never let anyone tell her no, and she stood up for what she believed was right. She took me under her wing and taught me so much about life, the industry and how to be a woman. I will never forget the six months I spent sitting in her dressing room backstage at A Little Night Music.
4. Bernadette Peters
Another star of Broadway fame, Bernadette Peters played my mother for six months of the run of A Little Night Music. Her positivity and ability to giggle through any situation was — and still is — so inspirational to me. Despite her celebrity status, she was in the trenches with us throughout the run of the show and avidly participated in anything and everything she could. She is also somehow able to balance her career with her humanitarian efforts that have truly made a difference in the animal adoption communities. Having an awareness of how to use her voice for the greater good is something that has stuck with me to this day.
5. Angela Lansbury
One day after I arrived in NYC from my hometown, I met the one and only Angela Lansbury. Subsequently, she played my grandmother for six months of the run of A Little Night Music. Most of my scenes were with her character and as such, I spent the majority of my free time during the show in her dressing room listening to her stories and gathering her advice. She is one of the kindest women I have ever met, but so very wise and intelligent, especially in matters concerning young career women in entertainment. She turned to me one day before we went onstage and told me to “play” in the scene — to not be afraid to try something new. I credit Angela with giving me the confidence to trust my instincts and stay true to myself.
6. Catherine Zeta-Jones
Catherine played my mother in A Little Night Music for six months of the run. She is one of the only women I have met who still possesses the glamorous nature of the classic old Hollywood movie star. Beyond that, Catherine is incredibly intelligent, generous and truly kind. By watching her, I learned it was possible to be a confident, sexy woman who was still respected by co-workers and peers, and not put into a feminine box. She is a force to be reckoned with — I hope to follow in her footsteps.
7. Malala Yousafzai
Malala’s story has been blasted on the news for years now. Her fight for women’s rights and education in the Middle East nearly cost her life. Despite the dangers, she has not stopped fighting for what she believes in, nor has it stopped her from getting an education herself. She has become a symbol for women’s rights, for hope and for strength across the globe. Her selflessness and giving her life to her work and to a cause that matters are qualities I truly look up to.
8. Audrey Hepburn
I saw My Fair Lady for the first time when I was about 6 years old. From that point on, I was a fan. I didn’t know why at the time, but I was drawn to this woman who could make such a transformation from the flower girl to the glamorous socialite. As I learned more about her, Audrey Hepburn became the definition of class in my mind. From her work as an actress and her status as a fashion icon to her humanitarian efforts, she made every day of her life mean something. I can only hope to have a mere piece of the impact she had on the world.
9. Ellen DeGeneres
I have grown up watching Ellen. It was something I did every day with my mother and/or grandmother. Ellen has become a kind of role model to me. She is the consummate professional career woman. From her acting career and her success as a businesswoman and talk-show host to her compassion and care for those in need, she is someone I truly aspire to emulate.
10. Brie Larson
Brie Larson is not only one of my favorite actresses, but one who I would like to follow in the footsteps of. She chooses interesting, challenging projects and fully commits to them. As a result, her work is brilliant, nuanced and respected. Aside from all that, it seems she has managed to stay true to herself and not get caught up in the glamor of Hollywood. I plan to do the same.