This life thing doesn’t really let you choose how you start it, and it’s normal to be discouraged by your circumstances or find yourself at the brink of giving up. However, there are people who challenge their circumstances and chase their dreams at any cost, because how you end life, is entirely up to you. In case you don’t believe that giants can be slain, and setbacks can be comebacks, we’ve put together a list of ferocious women who have been there, done that and have the hero marks to prove it.
Born and raised in Mississippi, Oprah did not have the warmest childhood experience. She was abused and assaulted from the age of 9, and later buried her infant son at the age of 14. Despite not having much of a support system, Oprah made it into the Tennessee State University in 1971, where she began to work as a radio and television news reporter. She landed another position as an anchor for Baltimore WJZ-TV, from which she was fired and told she wouldn’t make it in the world of TV. Well, we know that prediction was off the mark, because not only does Oprah now have her very own television network, but she’s enjoyed years of success as one of the world’s best TV talkshow hosts.
After receiving death threats from the Taliban for being vocal about women’s right to education, she was shot by a gunman on her way from school. Following the failed assassination, Malala stood before the United Nations and delivered a speech on the importance of access to education. And at the tender age of 17, she went on to become the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and her birthday is celebrated annually as Malala Day in commemoration of her belief in children’s right to learn.
Having lost her mother at just 4 years old, Thuso was raised by her grandmother in KwaZulu Natal until she came to Johannesburg to study Performing at Wits University. She went through the struggle of going to auditions for a while until she landed her first big role on E.tv’s Scandal. She worked her way to bigger roles, often going through devastating patches of not getting work, until she was finally cast as lead on Is’thunzi, the drama series that earned her an Emmy nomination as well as a spot on the Forbes 30 under 30 list this year. Thuso often expresses gratitude for her grandmother who raised her to be optimistic and courageous, as she has had to weather some bad storms to get to this point.
Whether you’ve seen her on Being Mary-Jane, Bad Boys, or any of the rom-coms in her impressive repertoire, you’ve got to love Gabby. After receiving the Essence Fierce and Fearless award, Gabrielle Union opened up about her violent sexual assault and abusive first marriage, as well as her struggles with infertility. She’s now at the forefront of speaking up about issues that affect women and is openly against domestic violence and rape. An inspiration, Gabby has certainly beat the odds and etched her name on the world stage.
Benoni born and raised sweetheart, Charlize Theron has made a name for herself in Hollywood, and she remains the pride of South Africans. Her life hasn’t always been Oscar glitz and glam, though. As a teenager, Charlize witnessed her mother shoot and kill her father in self-defence after he threatened to harm them both. Charlize’s mother later encouraged her to pursue a career in modelling, which opened doors for her success in Hollywood. Now, she is a household name and attributes a great deal of her success to her struggle and the resilience it has taught her.
Whether you’re faced with tough times at home, or school and work are looking a little bleak, you can definitely look to these women’s stories for motivation to keep going. Their dedication to their crafts and ability to bounce back after every hurdle and failure are precisely what all of us can emulate to get to whatever goals we’ve set.