(Pop Culture)

12 Inspiring Female Heroines Over 40 In Film & TV

So iconic.

Originally Published: 
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Not all superheroes wear capes. Some come in the form of strong, intelligent, and resilient women over the age of 40. The female protagonists ahead from top films and television series are just such a variety of heroism. Take notes.

Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, & Bette Midler In First Wive’s Club

This 1996 cult classic features the three powerhouses as scorned first wives seeking justice for wronged women everywhere. Come for the revenge plot, stay for the iconic musical finale.

Sandra Oh in The Chair

Netflix’s comedy drama features Oh as the newly appointed head of the English Department (and the first woman of color) at a prestigious university. The show takes on the complexities of office politics, ageism, discrimination, and sexism.

Octavia Spencer in Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker

Spencer commands this Netflix limited series, inspired by the true story of legendary entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, who rose from poverty to found a multi-million-dollar beauty empire.

Amanda Matlovich/Netflix
Michelle Yeoh in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny

Yeoh hypnotizes with both her poise and flawless sword-wielding as a determined warrior in the sequel to the cult film. Between her magnetic fight sequences and effortless beauty, the 59-year-old actor is truly a force to be reckoned with.

Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones’s Baby

Gracing screens as the perpetually single Jones for the third time, Zellweger delivers the laughs yet again. This time, the chuckles turn to cheers as audiences root for the fictional Brit’s journey to motherhood.

Taraji P. Henson in Hidden Figures

While the all-star cast for Hidden Figures (including Janelle Monáe and Octavia Spencer) is collectively great, Henson’s depiction of real NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson is truly inspiring and unforgettable.

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Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde

Theron as an icy blonde MI6 field agent sheds new light on the classic spy thriller. Stiletto-heeled fights are aplenty, upping the ante on traditional movie brawls.

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Angela Bassett in Black Panther

While not the main character of this epic 2018 Marvel film, Bassett is unforgettable as the poised, flawless, and wise Ramonda, Queen Mother of Wakanda.

Jane Fonda & Lily Tomlin in Grace & Frankie

Fonda and Tomlin join forces as jilted wives who find friendship (and business success!) after their husbands leave them for each other. Laughs, tears, and vibrators make this show a must-watch.

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Regina King in Watchmen

King carries this American superhero drama as Angela Abar (aka Sister Night), a lead detective for the Tulsa police department. Her complex performance made the HBO show an instant hit and garnered her countless awards, including an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.

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Salma Hayek in Eternals

Hayek plays Ajak in this 2021 Marvel flick, the loving leader of a team of immortal extraterrestrial superheroes. In a 2021 interview, Hayek revealed seeing herself in the superhero costume brought her to (happy!) tears.

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Halle Berry in Bruised

One scroll of Berry’s IG proves she’s in the best shape, but this 2020 sports drama proves the actor can throw a punch as well. In addition to carrying the lead role of a redeemed MMA fighter, Berry also directed the film.


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