Secretariat arrives in theaters October 8 and its star, Diane Lane, portrays the real-life inspiration that is Penny Chenery Tweedy. After her father passes away, Tweedy takes the reins of her pop’s horse racing business and steers an unlikely colt to superstardom.
In Secretariat, the year is 1973 and the Women’s Liberation Movement had only begun to make strides in society as a whole. Horse racing, for one, was a stalwart for the proverbial boy’s club and it was clear Tweedy was not welcome. She bucked the system and wound up triumphing with what many consider the greatest horse ever to grace a racetrack. With the release of Secretariat, it got us thinking: What other female film roles are pure inspirations? It was difficult to narrow it down, but here are five of our favorites!
Any inspirational female role list has to start with Sandra Bullock’s Academy Award-winning turn as Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side. Tuohy famously adopted a teenage homeless boy and gave him a home and so much more. The true story astounded audiences in 2009 and to this day, Leigh Anne Tuohy is still inspiring people with appearances and speeches.
Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich
Erin Brockovich was a single mother who could barely pay the rent and feed her young kids. Julia Roberts showcased her story of taking on the corporate utility system and bringing what was right to the hundreds that were harmed by the electric company’s wrongdoing and subsequent cover-up.
Roberts also won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of the true-life inspiration and years later, her performance still resonates and is a benchmark for how to bring a real person to life and not lose an ounce of luster in the process.
Sally Field in Norma Rae
Unions being readily available to the American workforce is almost a given in 2010. Not so when Norma Rae took on a textile mill’s owners to bring fair working conditions and compensation to the small town mill workers in Norma Rae. Who could forget the famous scene where Sally Field’s Norma Rae holds a “Union” sign over her head that inspires her co-workers to shut off their equipment and demand their rights?
Sally Field, you guessed it, also won an Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of the workforce trailblazer.
Susan Sarandon in Dead Man Walking
Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn starred in the stirring Dead Man Walking about a man on death row and the nun who works hard to save his soul before he meets his maker.
Sarandon was the picture of film brilliance in her portrayal of the real-life Sister Helen Prejean who famously went into one of the roughest prisons in America and tried to save a soul. Her character never wavered in her faith that even the vilest of human creatures are capable of saving.
Susan Sarandon’s performance in Dead Man Walking serves as one of her best and resulted in — you guessed it — an Oscar!
Diane Lane in Secretariat
The one who inspired this list is Diane Lane and her incredible performance as Penny Chenery Tweedy. It is a testament to Lane’s acting skills and director Randall Wallace’s storytelling that the story of Secretariat, something audiences know keenly well, is still a thrilling piece of moviemaking that also inspires beyond belief.
Lane’s simultaneously sensitive and sensational turn as Tweedy could very well land her among the fab five actresses that will be nominated for their work in 2010.
Lane and Secretariat have the pedigree, pardon the pun, to continue Hollywood’s tradition of creating inspirational female roles in moving tales that warrant Oscar’s gold.