There are many examples of self-assured and independent female characters in cinema and television in the last couple decades. From Imperator Furiosa to Captain Marvel, we have heroines that have inspired my generation and will continue to do so for future generations. Although these characters are no less important, in terms of their contribution to film history, those vintage characters and the actors that portrayed them set the bar early on.
Vintage films are marked as films from the start of the creation of the entire film industry until the 60s. Silent actors, black and white film characters, and technicolor heroines revolutionized the media industry when they portrayed these women.
These were the first female actors of color on film to the most scandalous actors who owned their self-assurance.
For me, these characters are a reminder that the fight for well-represented female roles is not a new one, but an ongoing and long-lasting one.
1. Nyota UhuraGiphy
Uhura continues to be one of the most important characters in the Star Trek series and that is because of Nichelle Nichols' portrayal of her in the 60s. She was a role model for young girls wanting to join the armed services and serve, as well as, inspired Whoopi Goldberg to be an actress. Her calm sense of determination in each episode made her a favorite of all watchers.
2. Lady LouGiphy
Mae West had played some of the most confident and out of era characters for her time. Her shamelessness oozes from every role she played and it was obvious that she was never afraid to play a character, like Lady Lou, who spoke her mind.
3. Fanny BriceGiphy
Fanny is another character, based on an actress well-portrayed by Barbra Streisand, who wasn't afraid to speak her mind. Career-driven, Fanny comes to New York City to become a star and the rest is history.
4. Holly GolightlyGiphy
Holly Golightly is a powerful character who changes her life in the course of the film for love. Although she is content, or at least pretends to be, she confronts herself about what she really wants, and gives that to herself at the end.
5. Lucy RicardoGiphy
I Love Lucy is a national treasure. Lucy Ricardo changed what it meant to be a comedian, especially such a physical one, on a national scale. Her hilarious gags and jokes inspire me as a writer today and her legacy is without comparison.
These hilarious, badass, and strong characters defined decades of filmmaking and television media. I highly recommend that you see their work — the films they were in — and see for yourself the importance of their roles for the time. More than anything, keep in mind the longest-lasting roles of these women are not representative of the roles that we have seen since.
Although we can admire how forward thinking and modern these characters were, the need for well-written, dynamic female characters is in almost constant demand.