50 Women Who Broke New Ground in 2021   

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3Creative Champions

Women’s artistic gifts were on full display in 2021. At the Grammys, Beyoncé took home four trophies, bringing her total to 28 and making her the most decorated female act in Grammy history. Taylor Swift won album of the year for the third time with Folklore, making her the first woman to earn this distinction three times.

Chloé Zhao was the first Asian woman to win a Golden Globe for best director. Viola Davis received her fourth career acting nomination and is now the most nominated Black actress in Oscars history.

Youn Yuh-Jung won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, becoming the first Korean and second Asian woman to win in this category. Mj Rodriguez of Pose was the first transgender woman to receive an outstanding lead actress Emmy nomination.

Michaela Coel was the first Black woman to win an Emmy for best limited series writing. Other women writers and media professionals also broke barriers in 2021. Alyson Shontell is now Fortune’s first woman editor in chief, and Sally Buzbee is the first woman executive editor of The Washington Post. Adrienne Fairwell is the first Black person to become general manager of the Arizona Public Broadcasting Service. Amanda Gorman was the youngest person to become an inaugural poet at the age of 22.

Another notable woman leader in the arts of 2021 is Janet Rollé, the first Black woman to be CEO and executive director of the American Ballet Theatre. Also in dance, JoJo Siwa became the first Dancing With the Stars contestant to dance with a same-gender professional partner. Model and actor Leyna Bloom was Sports Illustrated’s first transgender cover girl last year, as well as the first trans woman of color to be featured. Aaron Rose Philip, who became the first Black disabled transgender woman represented by a major modeling agency in 2018, made her runway debut during New York Fashion Week.

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Tags: Groundbreaking Women

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Written By

Julia Travers

Julia Travers is a writer who often covers social and cultural topics. Find her at NPR, Art News, YES! Magazine and other outlets. See Full Bio

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