2017's most influential women in genre

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Dec 17, 2018, 7:00 PM EST (Updated)

In a year we needed their voices most, the women of genre saved us. These women provided representation where it was needed most, activism that inspired all of us, and joy and enthusiasm in a year that so lacked these things. Their power, talent, and importance can only lead to more of that in the future, and for that we are so thankful. These are the most influential women in genre for 2017.

Kelly Marie Tran

It’s probably not a stretch to say that a big majority of the actors who are cast in Star Wars films are already huge fans of the franchise, but none of them encapsulated the overall hype leading up to the premiere of The Last Jedi more than one of its newest additions, Kelly Marie Tran. Poring through her Instagram account is a veritable delight for those of us who couldn’t wait for the newest Star Wars movie to come around, and Tran has kept the excitement alive even in the aftermath of the film’s premiere in December. From her willingness to hang with fans who are literally talking about The Last Jedi one table away to her enthusiasm on the red carpet, Tran didn’t just represent a demographic of fans who have been waiting to see themselves reflected in a galaxy far, far away—she also represented all of us who loved and heavily relied on Star Wars in 2017. - Carly Lane


Marguerite Bennett

What could have been an easily dismissed book, or a tie-in to a toy line based on essentially fanart, Bennett's DC's Bombshells comic instead became something complicated and interesting. It was an alternate universe that put women into positions of power during World War II, a universe that pushed back against anti-antisemitism, and homophobia, and allowed for types of storytelling that is rarely found in a "big 2" comic. Not one to shy away from risky topics, Bennett pushed further with 2017's sequel series, Bombshells United, which brought the story home to America and directed a spotlight on the internment camps that existed on our own soil less than a century ago and whose memory still exists in the minds of living Americans. On top of that, she's been tearing it up in the Batwoman Rebirth comics as well as her own book Insexts for Aftershock, which takes a clever view at womanhood through the lens of gothic bodyhorror. With works like this in mind, and with clear things to say, Bennett is a comics writer that should be on everyone's radar. - Riley Silverman


Tee Franklin

Activist, public speaker, and comic book writer Tee Franklin has been influencing people via her Twitter feed for some time as the creator behind the influential #blackcomicsmonth. 2017 saw a boost to her career as she crowdfunded roughly $60,000 for the release of the LGBTQIA romance comic Bingo Love. Critically acclaimed and currently smashing best-selling graphic novel lists, Bingo Love is proving to be a first masterwork of an important creator, not to mention it'll probably make you cry at least once. - Sara Century


Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Holdo and Cate Blanchett as Hela

Vice Admiral Holdo in The Last Jedi and Hela in Thor: Ragnarok are both powerful women who don’t suffer the influence of foolish men. They are both far too focused on getting sh*t done and looking fabulous when they do it. May we feel their influence throughout their respective franchises and beyond going forward. We need them. Long live the rise of the HBIC. - Riley Silverman


Patty Jenkins

The fact that the very first female superhero origin film has gone on to become wildly successful, not only within the comic book genre but pretty much ever, is a testament to Jenkins as a creative force and a director. When she was tapped to helm Wonder Woman, we were more than ready to see what the mind behind Monster would bring to the table. Turns out it was nothing short of wonderful (ahem). We have Jenkins to thank for that amazing No Man’s Land sequence, as well as everything on Themyscira leading up to Diana’s journey to save mankind, that made so many of us cry, pump our fists in delight, and do a little dance in our theater seats. Wonder Woman could certainly be viewed as a timely film, but it was also the movie we desperately needed in genre this year. We can’t wait to see what Jenkins does with Wonder Woman 2 (as of now she’s signed on to direct, and hopefully for the truckloads of cash that she unquestionably deserves). - Carly Lane


Carrie Fisher

Last Christmas, our holiday bliss was shattered by the news that Carrie Fisher, Goddess to Fangrrls everywhere, had passed. She was gone, but not forgotten. From the Women's March to a panoply of other protests, Fisher and her iconic Princess Leia became the face of the real-life Resistance, reminding us all to fight for what's right, and tell those who doubt us exactly where they can get off. And this Christmas, we got the best gift: Carrie's radiant return to theaters in The Last Jedi. Without spoilers, we can safely say her reprising the role of General Leia is magnificent. She is beautiful. She is powerful. She is defiant. And above all else, she inspires us to look to hope, ourselves, and our community to fight for a better tomorrow. - Kristy Puchko


Emily Andras and Michelle Lovretta

Female creatives on the small screen are still way too few and far between, which frankly makes Andras, the creator/showrunner behind Wynonna Earp, and Lovretta, the creator/showrunner of Killjoys, a breath of fresh freaking air—especially on that place we call Twitter. Longtime friends and former collaborators (they both worked Lost Girl before Lovretta passed the showrunner baton over to Andras), the two now make up a significant part of SYFY’s prime-time schedule, and both shows are slated to return for their third and fourth seasons, respectively. Because of them, we have a ton of wonderful female characters to be thankful for this year, including Wynonna and Waverly Earp, Dutch and Aneela, Nicole Haught, Delle Seyah, the evil Widows, Rosita, Lucy (obvs), and many more. On social media, Andras and Lovretta are both hilarious, accessible to fans, and more than happy to share some behind-the-scenes teases to whet our thirst that much more heading into 2018. Just don’t ask them to share any spoilers, because you’re not gonna get any. - Carly Lane


Emma Houxbois

Self-described as a “fiercely queer trans woman,” Emma Houxbois has been writing about comics and television online since around 2005, more recently appearing in the Love Is Love anthology as well as penning an essay series about the Warren Ellis comic Transmetropolitan. Also this year, Houxbois wrote the influential essay "Why I'm Boycotting Image Comics" for Comicosity in response to scenes of violence against trans women in one of their releases. The essay proved to be arguably one of the most important pieces of queer comics criticism this year, calling out a history of transphobic releases and a tendency of fans to overlook homophobia from independent publishers. Houxbois' criticism tends to run the gamut of comics and television, but is often fueled by a passion for queer representation, and it's been inspiring to witness as it plays out in the male-dominated, often very straight world of comics. - Sara Century


Ava DuVernay

If Ava DuVernay isn’t a name you recognize by now, it sure as hell should be. The director, producer, screenwriter, and film distributor is definitely going to be on everyone’s mind moving into 2018, when her sci-fi adventure film A Wrinkle in Time premieres in March, but 2017 was a big year for DuVernay too. She became the first Black woman to be nominated as a director by the Academy Awards in a feature film category for her documentary 13th, and her series Queen Sugar was renewed for a third season earlier this year. On Twitter, she spotlights lesser-known creators of color that everyone should be paying attention to—and she’s always there to remind us about the importance of female voices in film. Long may she reign. - Carly Lane


Credit: Marvel Studios

Tessa Thompson

Though superhero movies boast fans across gender lines all over the world, people of color and women are woefully underrepresented in them. Thankfully this year, the MCU got a lot cooler when Tessa Thompson strode down the Bifrost Bridge like a total boss in Thor: Ragnarok. As Valkyrie, she was a mighty warrior with a biting brand of humor and a swoon-inducing smirk. In interviews, Thompson's been vocal about the importance of representation to WOC in particular, and revealed that her Valkyrie is bisexual. At Marvel, she's pitched an all-female Avengers-style movie. And online, the outspoken actress has been using her Twitter account to promote female voices in filmmaking and film criticism. Simply put, Thompson is a hero onscreen and off. - Kristy Puchko


Margaret Atwood

Atwood wrote her seminal work The Handmaid's Tale in 1985. In the 32 years that followed, women are still facing and fighting the same concerns—wage discrimination, sexual assault, misogyny externally and internally. In fact it feels at times that the only thing that's changed is that it's expanded, thanks to a slowly broadening understanding of the full breadth of these issues based on race, class, orientation, gender assignment and conformity, disability and all the intersectional matters that make up being or being viewed as a woman and all the things that means. And that's exactly what Atwood had counted on. In her Reddit AMA this year, she wrote,  “My interest was in women of all kinds—and they are of all kinds. They are interesting in and of themselves, and they do not always behave well … We are now in what is being called the 3rd wave—seeing a lot of pushback against women, and also a lot of women pushing back in their turn." And this year, the phenomenally timed Hulu series based on The Handmaid's Tale gave women another warning about the pushback we face, and a call to keep pushing back. The show was one of 2017's greatest gifts, tremendously written, acted, and directed, with nine out of the first season's 10 episodes directed by women. As we go into 2018, its message and warning are still there, something Atwood also discussed in her AMA. "The priorities in the US are roughly trying to prevent the roll-back that is taking place especially in the area of women’s health. Who knew that this would ever have to be defended? Childbirth care, pre-natal care, early childhood care—many people will not even be able to afford any of it. Dead bodies on the floor will result. It is frightful. Then there is the whole issue of sexual violence being used as control—it is such an old motif.” But thanks to Atwood, we have one more tremendously constructed reminder to never let the bastards grind us down. - Courtney Enlow

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