Entertainment

CNN readers share which TV women most inspired them

By Melissah Yang, CNN

Updated 2226 GMT (0626 HKT) September 15, 2017
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Deborah Gregory, 63: "Mary Tyler Moore. In an age when high school female graduates were often encouraged to go to college for their Mrs. degree, along comes Mary Richards. Mary was smart, attractive, determined and was able to model a professional and personal life as a single woman living on her own. To young women at that time, this was nothing less than inspirational. And guess what? Just like Mary, we did 'make it after all'!" CBS Photo Archive /Getty Images
Linda Luttrell, 66: "Murphy Brown hands down! She was strong. witty, intelligent and independent. When she was banned from interviewing VP Dan Quayle, I loved it. Murphy always said what was on her mind and stood by it, even if no one else agreed with her. When friends compared me to her back in the day, I considered that a supreme compliment!" CBS Photo Archive/CBS/CBS via Getty Images
Lisa Minter, 54: "The female character I most admired on TV was Clair Huxtable. She was beautiful, intelligent, funny and wise. There weren't many African-American women on TV that I could identify with and here is this black woman breaking societal prejudices every Thursday night, proving that we really could have it all. We could be amazing mothers, and we could do it with grace and style. She was the epitome of everything I wanted to be and set the standard for so many of us who had no one who looked like us on TV." Everett Collection
Linda Seifert, 59: "I connected with Roseanne because, for me, she was the first leading lady in television that wasn't a perfect size 2. In the first season, she was a married, overworked mother-of-three who dealt with life head on and made no apologies for her looks or her lifestyle. She reminded me of the women in my life, my neighborhood and my family. Real women, getting it done." ABC/GETTY IMAGES
Amanda Fields, 34: "One of the most influential women on TV is Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson on 'Law & Order SVU.' She plays a character that has been through so much and sees horrible crimes everyday, yet she comes out stronger each time. Hargitay not only plays the character; she lives by what she plays on TV. She does a lot of work in assault cases and raising awareness and money for it. She steps outside the box and enables a community to rise above abuse and assault." NBC/Episodic/Michael Parmelee/NBC
Jodi Bogert, 24: "Peggy Olson from 'Mad Men' will always be my favorite, no question, especially since I want to work in the creative field one day. Watching her strut down the hallway to her new office, with Bert Cooper's painting in tow, makes me feel like I can do anything. Screw being 'one of the boys' or the 'nice girl.' She is Peggy Olson -- Copy Chief, OG. Peggy's journey taught me that life is about finding what works, having a passion, and sacrificing to achieve success. Plus, whenever I feel like I am not getting anywhere, I tell myself, 'It's okay. You're Peggy in Season 1. You will get to be a skating queen soon enough!'" Courtesy of AMC
Nancye Prather, 57: "I loved her on her show 'Ellen' back in the '90s and watched devotedly. She could do everything. But I love who she is now even more so, for the people's lives that she's touched and for the difference she makes in the world. She's the person I most admire and the person I ask my children to aspire to be like. I think schools ought to teach a class on 'DeGenerisms' -- mainly, how to be kind to one another, especially in the world we now live in." ABC Photo Archives/Disney ABC Television Group/ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images
Donna Walsh, 57: "Lucille Ball is my favorite woman on TV. Her character, Lucy, wasn't afraid to be herself. Granted, her antics got her in trouble with Ricky, but she kept on doing whatever she basically wanted to achieve. She wasn't afraid to stand up to her husband, even though women didn't do that in the '50s or '60s, and yet she kept her marriage going strong. I not only loved her for her funniness, I loved her for being herself." CBS Photo Archive /Getty Images
Kendra Stephens, 44: "Edith Bunker: the fighter, the romantic and the rebel. I remember watching re-runs of 'All in the Family' as a young child in Cleveland, Ohio. I remember Edith allowing Archie to win the fight to avoid the war. I remember Edith fiercely demanding Archie to apologize when he was wrong, and I admired that she loved him deeply despite his many faults. I was intrigued by her dimensions, her purity of heart, unwavering love and her resistance. There was a beauty in her simplicity." CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images
Lydia Santos, 63: "Marlo Thomas. As a very young girl, I thought I had to get married to leave my parents' home and have my own life. She was very inspiring to be a young, pretty, impressionable girl with her independence and having a career and her own place to live and not having to be married to do so." ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images
Sujata Dey, 50: "Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman gave me the courage to be myself. As a child of India's diaspora, I wore bracelets, and children teased me because I wore gold bangles. So when a dark-haired superheroine came on the scene, and the little envious girls at recess told me, 'Who do YOU think YOU are to wear jewelry?' With wrists crossed, I began to answer, 'Wonder Woman, that's WHO! So be careful, I can tell when you're lying, too!' Those gold bracelets, which I was teased about, became a symbol of my truth. I still wear bracelets, and for my 50th birthday, I got genuine Wonder Woman bracelets!" Getty Images
Gwen Frederick, 54: "'Xena: Warrior Princess' as played by Lucy Lawless. A woman on a redemptive mission who could 'out woman' and 'out man' anyone, all at the same time! The character inspired me to be fearless in my dreams and pursuits (I changed careers because of her) and to never give up in spite of obstacles or past mistakes." YouTube/ Renaissance Pictures
Maria Carrasquillo, 46: "I grew up assuming that women, including women of color, were a normal thing in entertainment because of Nichelle Nichols. Lt. Uhura was an equal to everyone else on the show. And when you add Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, Joanna Cameron in 'The Secrets of Isis' and Lindsay Wagner as the Bionic Woman, TV in my childhood was full of strong females that showed that we can rescue ourselves and everyone else around us. And doing it without losing what it meant to be a woman." CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images
David Camerlinck, 47: "I first saw Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) in 1995, the year my oldest daughter was born. Being a first-time father with a little girl, I was worried about what the world held for my firstborn. Seeing on a weekly basis a strong woman with the moral courage and leadership that would make Captain Kirk blush meant a lot to me. Even more so when my second daughter was born. Janeway helped me to see the bright future available to my daughters, showing that they can go where no man-- oops, no ONE has gone before." CBS Photo Archive/CBS/CBS via Getty Images
Tina Belge, 26: "One of the most influential female TV characters in my life, in particular my childhood, was Buffy Summers from 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer.' Not only was she a badass, but she was also just a girl figuring life out, who she was, who her friends were and the bigger purpose to life -- all while fighting evil, of course. I'll never forget the finale when every girl alive was endowed with the gift of being the slayer, and all over the world girls became empowered, stronger, and felt like they could take on anything. I needed that when I was 13. Heck, I need that now." Getty Images/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Jennifer Boudreau, 40: "Dana Scully was strong, intelligent, opinionated and not afraid to be a woman in a man's world. She wasn't just Mulder's sidekick; she was his equal. She showed that a woman can be smart and excel in male-dominated career paths like science and criminal justice and still be fierce and feminine. Dana Scully made being smart and determined sexy. It's so amazing to see the rebooted 'X-Files' and how relevant of a character Scully still is in a society fighting to close the gender gap. Still a role model and feminist icon!" FOX/FOX Image Collection/FOX via Getty Images
Tracy Josephs, 38: "I loved Moesha. She was my age and, like me, a young, black teen girl trying her best to be who she wanted to be. Her braids made it okay for me to love my hair whatever way it grew or whatever way I wanted to wear it. Moesha was her own person. Her clothes, makeup and hair was all different. I wanted to be that girl who was comfortable in her own skin." Handout/Getty Images
Christina Tagle, 35: "Lorelai and Rory Gilmore represented women who could be smart, funny and real -- and that could be enough. They were women who read books, valued education and supported each other through the ins and outs of life. They had dreams and goals, and they accomplished them. They weren't superheroes, but they were the kind of women I aspired to be in some way." Warner Bros./Delivered by Online USA/Getty Images
Victoria Flores, 18: "I admire Cristina Yang from 'Grey's Anatomy' played by Sandra Oh. In the show, she is fearless and does whatever she has to do to make sure she is the best surgeon she can be. She is often referred to as a 'robot' because of how she deals with her patients and her personal situations. But at the end of the day, she is caring and strong-minded. She reminds me of what women should be." Michael Desmond/Disney ABC Television Group/ABC via Getty Images
Keana Hodges, 20: "Olivia Pope from 'Scandal.' She's a powerful, successful and intelligent African-American woman that surmounts any challenges she is faced with. I am an African-American female college student planning to work in a similar field once I graduate and complete law school. African- American role models on television are a rare commodity, and her character is a much needed breath of fresh air." ABC
Katie Mac, 38: "Amy Poehler, as Leslie Knope, played a hilarious female character without pandering to stereotypes. She played a smart, passionate, effective leader who was also ridiculously positive about her job and the people she cared about. Poehler walked that line between silly and serious without ever becoming a caricature of feminism. Her character was inspiring and real at the same time. In my job I often ask myself, 'W.W.L.K.D? (What would Leslie Knope do?)'" NBC/NBCUniversal/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
Jessi Esparza, 28: "Betty Suarez in 'Ugly Betty.' I was 17 when the show premiered. She was the first Latina character I'd ever seen who wasn't defined as sexy or spicy -- and who also was the main character. Her story and character arc were centered on her career goals and growth as a person. It was empowering to see someone who looked like me, not just my skin tone and hair color, but my body shape, too. It was empowering to see a Mexican American who wasn't an immigrant, who was completely American, and wasn't a stereotype." Patrick Harbron/Disney ABC Television Group/ABC via Getty Images
Mercedes Angel, 21: "I really admire Viola Davis' character Annalise Keating in 'How to Get Away With Murder.' She is always confident in the face of adversity and keeps her cool when she needs it the most. She isn't intimidated by much. Her ability to demand respect whenever she walks into the room is amazing. In a workplace that is competitive and extremely wearing, she is a well-known and feared component. She really inspires me to work hard and be confident in myself." Mitchell Haaseth/ABC
Karen Hicks, 38: "I have come to admire Kate Pearson from 'This Is Us.' She isn't your 'typical' female character. She deals with scars just like those of us in the 'real world.' Her weight is a big issue (just like with many of us), and you get to see her deal with it. It's so honest because I know I've been in the same boat as her." NBC/Episodic/Ron Batzdorff/NBC
Adrienne M., 59: "Like Cookie, I came out of a tough Philadelphia neighborhood. Even after we moved to the suburbs, dangerous situations and serious issues arose on my path to success, and I usually had to navigate them on my own. I admire her character mainly because she does whatever is necessary to protect and herself and her family and to help promote their success, despite living in a world filled with people who often prove to be working against her." Chuck Hodes/FOX
Charlotte Horton, 20: "Kate Beckett made the show of 'Castle' become an escape, a way to get my head out of the darkness it was stuck in. Beckett is my hero and her battle with PTSD showed me that my mental illness is not a weakness but a strength, and she showed me that I can be more than my past. To others she may just be a fictional character, but to me, she was a life raft when I was sinking, a light in the dark." Vivian Zink/Disney ABC Television Group/ABC via Getty Images