The 20 Most Influential Women Of 2020

The 20 Most Influential Women Of 2020

At SheerLuxe, we’re all about celebrating women and their achievements – and what better year than 2020 to highlight those who have made a real impact, not just in their respective fields, but on the wider world? In no particular order, read on for some serious inspiration…

Kamala Harris, US Vice President Elect

Arguably one of the biggest victories of the year, Kamala Harris successfully beat Donald Trump and Mike Pence to become the first female US vice president elect – and first woman of colour, no less – alongside her running mate and soon-to-be boss Joe Biden during the US election in November. Due to take up office in the White House in January, Harris has spoken openly about her husband’s willingness to take a step back from his own career to support her official role next year.

Follow @KamalaHarris on Instagram

Emma Corrin, Actor

There are plenty of Royal mentions on this list, but the influence of Princess Diana is everlasting – with her memory vividly portrayed by Emma Corrin in series four of Netflix’s hit show The Crown this year. Not only has she invigorated Diana’s impact on the fashion world, Corrin herself also took part in several high-profile editorial shoots with Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, putting the 24-year-old firmly on the style map for 2021 and beyond. 

The Crown is available to watch on Netflix now

Visit Netflix.com

Dr Özlem Türeci, Chief Medical Officer at BioNTech

One half of the married couple who discovered the Pfizer vaccine for Covid-19, Dr Özlem Türeci is a German physician, immunologist and businessperson. Together with her husband, she founded the pharmaceutical company BioNTech, which developed a 95% effective coronavirus vaccine in November this year – prompting the UK government to order approximately 40m doses. Although the Covid-19 treatment was funded by the American pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, the science was primarily developed by BioNTech.

Read more about the breakthrough discovery here 

Chrissy Teigen, Model, Actor & Author

We love Teigen for so many reasons, but this year, the model, cookbook author and mother of two took a giant leap for womankind via her heartbreakingly honest discussion of her advanced miscarriage – which was later classed as a stillbirth – in October. What followed was an outpouring of support from both men and women worldwide, including the Duchess of Sussex, who penned her own essay for the New York Times reflecting on her own miscarriage – along with the general events of 2020 – the following month. 

Follow @ChrissyTeigen on Instagram

Read Meghan Markle’s essay here  

Michaela Coel, Writer, Director & Actor

This year’s Coel wrote, co-directed, executive produced and starred in one of the biggest TV dramas of the year – I May Destroy You. As Arabella, Coel told the story of a young woman who seeks to rebuild her life after being raped, with the 12-part series debuting on the BBC back in June. But this was not Coel’s first foray into television. Having previously created and starred in the E4 sitcom Chewing Gum, for which she won the Bafta Award for Best Female Comedy Performance, she’s also clocked up appearances in Black Mirror and Black Earth Rising. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this triple threat. 

I May Destroy You is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now

Visit BBC.co.uk

Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer 

One of only a handful of senior female advisors to have addressed the country multiple times this year during the course of the coronavirus pandemic, Dr Jenny Harries only took on her role as Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England in July 2019 – the same time as Prof Chris Witty. Having often been hailed as the ‘voice of reason’ during her appearances at the Downing Street press conferences, she’ll arguably go down in history as one of the most important faces of the crisis.

Listen to an interview with Dr Jenny Harries early on in the pandemic here

Nicola Adams, Olympic Gold Medallist

This year, former professional boxer and two-time Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams made history by competing as part of the first same-sex couple on Strictly Come Dancing. Despite having to leave the competition early after her professional partner Katya Jones contracted Covid-19, viewers hailed Adams and Jones’ dances as emotional and ground-breaking, paving the way for more same-sex partnerships on future series.

The final of Strictly Come Dancing takes place on Saturday 19th December on BBC1 

Visit BBC.co.uk

Kamala Harris, US Vice President Elect
Kamala Harris, US Vice President Elect

SUSAN WALSH/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

Beyoncé, Musician
Beyoncé, Musician

JORDAN STRAUSS/INVISION/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

Dr Özlem Türeci, Chief Medical Officer at BioNTech
Dr Özlem Türeci, Chief Medical Officer at BioNTech
Chrissy Teigen, Model, Actor & Author
Chrissy Teigen, Model, Actor & Author

EVAN AGOSTINI/INVISION/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

Daisy Edgar-Jones, Actor

Arguably one of the biggest breakout stars of the year thanks to her starring role in BBC Three’s Normal People, Daisy Edgar-Jones has taken the acting – and fashion – worlds by storm. Having also starred in the 2020 revival of Albion at the Almeida Theatre (the production was live streamed and shown on television during the coronavirus lockdown) Edgar-Jones is next set to star in the film adaption of Delia Owen’s smash-hit book Where the Crawdads Sing. 

Normal People is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now

Visit BBC.co.uk

Reni Eddo-Lodge, Journalist & Writer

Eddo-Lodge’s Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race first came out in 2017, but the tome topped book charts in June following the murder of George Floyd and subsequent resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, making her first Black British woman to achieve the feat. At the time, Eddo-Lodge described the moment as ‘bittersweet’, arguing that the sudden uptick in sales highlighted the need for deeper understanding of the prejudices Black people face the world over. 

Follow @ReniEddoLodge on Instagram

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is available here 

Prof Sarah Gilbert, Vaccinologist 

If it weren’t for the pandemic, Sarah Gilbert might never have gone down in history the way she now will. Part of the Oxford vaccine development team, Gilbert lobbied heavily in April to encourage the British government to donate extra funding to the development of vaccinations and bring about an end to the current public health crisis. In November 2020, the Oxford team (which Gilbert leads alongside Andrew Pollard, Teresa Lambe, Sandy Douglas, Catherine Green and Adrian Hill) announced it had a viable vaccine candidate following its work with pharma giant AstraZeneca. 

Read more about Prof Sarah Gilbert’s career here 

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

Praised for her swift and comprehensive tackling of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s little surprise Ardern won a second term as prime minister of New Zealand with a landslide victory this year. Known for her forward-thinking stances on issues like climate change, Ardern has also publicly described herself as a feminist and supports of same-sex marriage. She also remains the only prime minister in the history of New Zealand to be pregnant and give birth while in office. 

Follow @JacindaArhern on Instagram

Beyoncé, Musician

When the Black Lives Matter movement found renewed momentum in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, we knew it was only a matter of time before Queen Bey weighed in with some quintessentially moving words of wisdom. Her commencement speech to the class of 2020, which she was invited to make at the request of Barack and Michelle Obama and was broadcast via YouTube in June, summarised a generation’s collective consciousness more eloquently than we could have ever hoped for. Plus, her visual album Black Is King, which dropped on Disney Plus+ over the summer, was just… epic. 

Black Is King is available on Disney+ now

Visit DisneyPlus.com

Anya-Taylor Joy, Actor

Horror film aficionados would probably have heard of Anya Taylor-Joy way before 2020, but the actress entered the mainstream this year following starring roles in Autumn de Wilde’s stylish adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma and Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit. Now an ambassador for beauty giant Viktor & Rolf, Taylor-Joy is due to team up with director Edgar Wright (Baby Driver), on another psychological horror, Last Night in Soho, due for release in April next year.

Emma is available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime
The Queen’s Gambit is available on Netflix now

Visit Netflix.com

Christina Koch, Astronaut

Christina Koch spent 328 days aboard the International Space Station – setting the record for the longest-ever single spaceflight by a woman – before landing back safely on Earth in February. While there, she and fellow astronaut Jessica Meir performed the world's first all-female spacewalk. More recently, the North Carolina native – along with Meir – was selected by Nasa to take part in the Artemis moon landings, which are due to take place in 2024. The intended trip will mark the first time humans have landed on the moon since 1972.

Follow @Astro_Christina on Instagram

 

Michaela Coel, Writer, Director & Actor
Michaela Coel, Writer, Director & Actor

DAVID FISHER/SHUTTERSTOCK

Daisy Edgar-Jones, Actor
Daisy Edgar-Jones, Actor

DAVID FISHER/BAFTA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge
Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge

SHUTTERSTOCK

Anna-Taylor Joy, Actor
Anna-Taylor Joy, Actor

MEDIA PUNCH/SHUTTERSTOCK

Pat McGrath, Pro Make-Up Artist

Earning herself a spot on this year's Black Powerlist of the most influential people of colour in the UK, Pat McGrath is often dubbed the most famous make-up artist in the world – with her clients including the like of Hailey Bieber and Sarah Jessica Parker. Having turned her hand to business by launching her eponymous brand in 2015, recent estimates in July put a $1bn valuation on the company – Pat McGrath Labs – following a $60m investment from New York City-based investment firm Eurazeo Brands. 

Visit PatMcGrath.com

Carrie Symonds, British Political Activist & Conservationist

Rarely has a British ‘first lady’ grabbed so many headlines for her influence at 10 Downing Street. Millennial wife-to-be Carrie Symonds gave birth to Boris Johnson’s son Wilfred on 29th April 2020. Since then, her presence inside No. 10 has been nothing short of indisputable, with Symonds considered to be one of the main catalysts behind the departure of long-time government advisor Dominic Cummings. She's also a powerful advocate for climate change and animal rights causes.

Follow @CarrieSymonds on Twitter

Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge 

For many, the role played by the royal family in 2020 has been fundamental. The Duchess of Cambridge has consistently shown her support for key workers throughout the course of the pandemic alongside her husband Prince William, although her work on the Early Years campaign – which looks into how experiences in early childhood are often the root cause of some of the hardest social challenges, such as addiction, family breakdown, poor mental health, suicide and homelessness – deserves special mention. 

Follow @KensingtonRoyal on Instagram

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, US Politician

This year, Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – or AOC as she’s affectionately known – successfully won re-election to the US Congress, having originally taken office at the tender age of 29, making her the youngest ever woman to do so. Throughout the course of the pandemic, AOC has been vocal about the need to offer more financial support to those who have lost their jobs or have been placed on furlough, as well as more accessible healthcare for America’s most vulnerable citizens.

Follow @AOC on Instagram

Emma Revie, CEO 

This year, as a result of widespread layoffs and economic crises, the prevalence and importance of food banks has not gone unnoticed. Having only taken on the top job at anti-poverty charity The Trussell Trust just three years ago, Emma Revie has been praised for her efforts to bring more awareness to and shine a light on Marcus Rashford’s campaign to win free school meals for children during the school holidays in 2020, eventually forcing the UK government into multiple U-turns on the issue.

Visit TrussellTrust.org

Emma Barnett, Journalist & broadcaster

Barnett bagged herself the presenting job on Radio 4's Woman's Hour in September 2020, becoming the youngest person to host the show in its illustrious history. The 5 Live and Newsnight presenter’s appointment followed the departure of Jane Garvey and Dame Jenni Murray, both of whom decided to step down from the show earlier this year. Woman's Hour, which offers a female perspective on the world, is one of the longest-running programmes on British radio, first launching in 1946 on the BBC Light Programme.

Tune into Woman’s Hour at 10am, weekdays on Radio 4

Visit BBC.co.uk

 

 

 

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