People Who Make NY Special

27 of Our Favorite NYC Women

It was pretty much impossible to keep this list to only 27. Let the debating begin!

Photo courtesy of Awkwafina/Facebook

Women deserve to be celebrated every day, but in honor of the month dedicated specifically to the mothers, sisters, wives, boundary breakers, trendsetters, and trailblazers hitting the pavement of NYC with a mission, we’re taking a closer look at 25 (okay, really 27) who are making the city proud. Shatter that ceiling, ladies!

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Aside from being the only Supreme Court justice who could probably deadlift you, the self-renowned “flaming feminist litigator” remains one of democracy’s greatest heroines. A career of fighting for women’s rights and gender equality, including cofounding the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, naturally shaped Ginsburg into a feminist icon early on in the movement. It’s her notorious merch and Oscar-nominated documentary that has made RBG a legitimate pop icon.

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Photo courtesy of Notorious RBG/Facebook
Sonia Sotomayor

Our nation’s first Hispanic Supreme Court justice has come out swinging since the Bronx native was appointed during the Obama era. Beginning with her first day on the job, Sotomayor’s rulings on data privacy, voter suppression, the death penalty, police brutality, and immigration have sparked vital conversations on the national front. She also saved baseball in 1995, something not even the male heads of MLB were able to do.

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Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons
Cardi B

Between performing her out-of-the-blue smash-hit “Bodak Yellow,” enduring a very public breakup (and make-up), and starring in a Super Bowl Pepsi commercial next to Dunder Mifflin’s own, you’d think Cardi B has had enough attention for one year. Then she goes and wins a Grammy for best rap album—her debut album—and becomes the first solo woman ever to do so. Okurrrrr!

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Photo courtesy of Cardi B/Facebook
Ruth Reichl

The recipe to a great restaurant is no secret, but it’s a hard one to master. Take it from six-time James Beard Award winner Reichl, the former editor in chief of Gourmet magazine, a six-year New York Times restaurant critic, and the author of two bestselling memoirs about her experience in the industry. Look out for her next book, Save Me the Plums, in which she talks about the decisions and hardships that shaped her deliciously noteworthy career.

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Photo courtesy of Ruth Reichl/Facebook
Amy Schumer

Whether you feel she’s too abrasive or polarizing for her own good, Schumer has never cared what you think about her. The comedian has always approached her craft with an unfiltered spirit, starting with her progressive sketch comedy series, Inside Amy Schumer, in which she repeatedly took down the patriarchy with just a few punch lines every week. Even with a burgeoning serious acting career and motherhood on the horizon, she remains as ballsy as ever.

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Photo courtesy of Amy Schumer/Facebook
Laurie Anderson

Few individuals would go inside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and say: Wow, these acoustics would be great for an experimental drone orchestration! But multidisciplinary artist Anderson is no stranger to spinning straw into avant-garde gold, blending art and technology together in well-received works shown locally (Park Avenue Armory, BAM), internationally (Venice Film Festival, Norway’s Ultima, Australia’s Home of the Arts), and even universally (she was NASA’s sole artist-in-residence) for more than four decades.

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Photo courtesy of Laurie Anderson/Facebook
Eileen Myles

From their first reading at CBGB to their time as the Poetry Project’s artistic director to the publication of 25 books spanning four decades, the East Village poet has found beauty in the tarnished. Most recently, they’ve also become one of the few Instagrammers who use the medium to their advantage and seek creative inspiration in today’s chaotic political climate. Myles knows plenty about the latter topic; they launched a write-in campaign to become the first openly female presidential candidate in 1991.

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Kimberly Drew

Curating the black experience has been Drew’s mantra since she launched her wildly successful Tumblr, Black Contemporary Art, in 2011. Even after breaking away from her social media gig at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last year, the cultural curator has continued to be a luminary of the black creative community. Being showcased in such renowned platforms as Dazed, Elle, The New York Times, Teen Vogue, and The Gentlewoman also helps in getting her message across to the masses.

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Photo courtesy of Kimberly Drew/Facebook
Katie Couric

Don’t let her perky mannerisms fool you; Couric is about as serious a reporter as they come. The Television Hall of Fame figure has crossed over to more media fields than most journalists combined, jumping between the three major networks before taking her talents to the Internet (her popular Stitcher podcast, a video series with The Skimm) and National Geographic (docuseries America Inside Out and Gender Revolution).

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Photo courtesy of Katie Couric/Facebook
Kerry Brodie

Building community has always been on Brodie’s mind, but one radical idea has reshaped New York’s hospitality landscape. Emma’s Torch—her Red Hook pop-up–turned–Carroll Gardens sit-down—doubles as a professional development program for refugees, asylees, and human trafficking survivors, giving them a fresh start in the culinary industry.

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Photo by Clayton Raithel/Courtesy of Emma’s Torch
Natasha Lyonne

The fast-talking, wisecracking queen of Netflix is as NYC as it gets. Lyonne followed up her penultimate season of Orange Is the New Black with Russian Doll, an inventive comedy and totally fresh homage to the time-loop-forward Groundhog Day. The show has garnered a ton of great reviews—kudos to the all-women writers room!

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

After a meteoric rise in 2018, Ocasio-Cortez is on a quick path to making some radical changes in our government. Although she’s only 29 years old, this congresswoman is proving she means business by taking on big political issues like campaign finance laws and, most recently, the Green New Deal.

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Photo by Corey Torpie/Courtesy of Ocasio 2018
Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Many of us relied on Dr. Ruth to talk us through the birds and the bees in the ’80s and ’90s, but there’s more to the Washington Heights sex therapist than meets her miniature frame. An orphan and a Holocaust survivor, she’s also a graphic novel author, BFFs with Mr. Peanut, and the subject of a forthcoming Hulu documentary. Who says you slow down at age 90?

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Photo courtesy of Ask Dr. Ruth/Facebook
Nasim Alikhani

There’s plenty to love about Sofreh, the Persian darling of Prospect Heights, but its most charming aspect roams freely inside the dining room. The Isfahan-born Alikhani grew up in a kitchen full of women, learning to cook from her immediate family. She translates those lifelong lessons and her travels around Iran into lip-smacking dishes like crispy rice, smoked eggplant, and saffron rice pudding. No wonder we’re still singing her praises almost a year since our first visit!

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Photo courtesy of Sofreh Brooklyn/Facebook
Cynthia Nixon

You remember her as the hardworking lawyer Miranda Hobbes in Sex and the City, but fiction turned into somewhat of a reality when Nixon announced that she was running for governor of New York in 2018. She may have lost in the end, but her strong stance on issues such as the city’s subway system, marijuana legalization, and women’s reproductive rights is opening the minds of other politicians when it comes to more progressive ideas. That’s what we call the #CynthiaEffect.

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer

In their web series-turned-massively successful Comedy Central television show, Broad City, Jacobson and Glazer star as two 20-somethings trying to make it in the Big Apple—except they’re both a mess and find themselves in scenarios even some real-life New Yorkers can’t begin to comprehend. The show is coming to an end this year, but don’t expect these two exceptional  writer-performers to stay off your screens for long. The season-one finale of Broad City—in which Glazer struggles through her severe shellfish allergy to celebrate Jacobson’s birthday—contains one of the funniest buddy-comedy bits we’ve ever seen.

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Photo courtesy of Broad City/Facebook
Leslie Jones

You’ve seen her kicking phantom butt on the big screen (Ghostbusters) and taking on the iconic personality of Oprah Winfrey on TV (Saturday Night Live), but success hasn’t come easy for  Jones. The comedian and actress began her stand-up career in 1987, though she didn’t catch her big break until auditioning at a SNL casting call in 2013 and then becoming the oldest person to officially join the cast at age 47. Since then, she has been named one of Time’s most influential people, become fashion designer Christian Siriano’s “hype woman,” and established herself as the Olympics’ number-one superfan.

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Photo courtesy of Leslie Jones/Facebook
Lady Gaga

There can be 100 people in a room and 99 of them don’t believe in you…but we’re very glad Bradley Cooper had faith in Mother Monster herself. The New Yorker might be a newly minted Oscar winner, but Lady Gaga will always be remembered for her eccentricity, unique sound, and flair for the dramatic. And she’s not done yet; word is her next album is right around the corner.

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Photo courtesy of Lady Gaga/Facebook
Ashima Shiraishi

Shiraisha is one of the best rock climbers in the world. She was inspired to start climbing when she was just 6 years old, after watching climbers on Rat Rock in Central Park, saying it looked like they were “dancing on rock.” Now she’s the first female to have ever completed the extremely difficult climbing grade V15—twice. Oh, and did we mention she’s only 17 years old? Looks like she’ll soon be rock-dancing all the way to the Olympics.

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Photo courtesy of Ashima Shiraishi/Facebook
Jody Williams and Rita Sodi

They’re both self-taught chefs. They both own immensely successful restaurants in the West Village. Maybe that’s why these culinary geniuses fell in love? Either way, we’re in love with Williams and Sodi’s joint venture, Via Carota, the gastroteca everyone is talking about (when they’re not stuffing their faces with cuttlefish and chickpea dishes or rabbit fried to perfection).

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Photo courtesy of Via Carota
Bridget Everett

Once named one of New York’s funniest people, Everett is proving she can make anyone laugh via any platform: TV (HBO’s Camping), film (Patti Cake$), podcasts (Amy Schumer’s 3 Girls, 1 Keith), and even her own hilarious alt-cabaret show at Joe’s Pub.

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Photo courtesy of Bridget Everett/Facebook
Awkwafina

If you had told this quiet LaGuardia High School student that she would one day become one of the most-talked-about breakout film stars in Hollywood, she would probably believe you. Confidence comes easy to Queens-born musician and actress Awkwafina. She traded her jazz music studies for writing and performing comedic raps on YouTube—which got her fired from her publicity assistant job, but also helped land her roles in back-to-back blockbuster hits Oceans 8 and Crazy Rich Asians.

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Photo courtesy of Awkwafina/Facebook
Anna Wintour

Some people have the Bible. Wintour has Vogue. The magazine’s longtime editor in chief (and artistic director of Condé Nast, NBD) has easily proven that females in the workplace can be badass and the boss—all while rocking a signature bob at the same time. Word of advice: Don’t cross her.

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Photo courtesy of Anna Wintour—The Fashion Saviour/Facebook
Salt-N-Pepa

Rap and hip hop forever changed when this girl band grabbed a mic and took the music industry by storm. Grammy Award–winning Salt-N-Pepa flipped the script on what was largely considered a male-dominated genre, dominating the Billboard charts with the singles “Let’s Talk About Sex” and “Push It,” among others. What a mighty good group!

Photo courtesy of Salt-N-Pepa/Facebook

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