My childhood heroine is Natalie Portman. Growing up, she really stood out to me as a heroine because of the pursuance of her education. She already had fame due to her role as Princess Amidala in Star Wars, but still strove to complete her degree in psychology from Harvard in 2003. She was even known for turning down film roles until her education was complete. In a time when I thought fame was everything, she showed me that education and pursuing different goals can be more important. 

Aside from her education credentials, she takes assertive stances on convoluted aspects of the film industry. For instance, she turned down a title role due to her feelings about young adult actors/actresses being overexposed to sex in films. Natalie often chooses roles that portray smart women so her younger viewers will have a positive role model to look up to.

During my years growing up, I knew she was an Ambassador of Hope for FINCA International which benefits women and children in Third World countries through micro-lending to help finance women-owned businesses in developing countries. She showed me that it’s important to help others succeed, wherever they are in the world.

Additionally, as an advocate for animals rights, she became a vegan/vegetarian long before it became popular. This really resonated with me as a practicing vegan/vegetarian. Having a strong role model who is not afraid to be firm in her food consumption choices was powerful to me as a young girl.

In 2011, Natalie became an ambassador and initiator of the Power of a Girl campaign for the WE Charity – an international charity and educational partner focusing on youth.

As a girl, I found Natalie to be courageous and strong in her beliefs, not letting the media or film industry dictate how she would live her life and what she would mark as important to her. She showed me that education is valuable, the importance of having a strong belief system and sticking to your guns. She showed me that doing this will not only make you stronger but be a beacon of light and encouragement for others.

-Ashley Winder
Junior Girl
Girl Museum, Inc. 

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