New York Magazine is packing a powerful punch with their Women and Power issue which explores the definition of power and what it means to some of the most well-known and influential women that are both on and behind the scenes. 

The Cut interviewed 70 of the most inspiration women, some of which were Black Lives Matter founders, Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza, 12-year-old activist Naomi Wadler, Laverne Cox, NYSE’s only full-time female trader, Lauren Simmons and businesswoman Ursula Burns.

Lena Waithe, who was also interviewed, spoke on how interesting times are for people of color seeing as “we are the culture” which has built a desire in the industry to share and include our stories. 

“I think you get more bang for your bank when you are your authentic self out in the world. I think I get a lot of credit for just being myself. … But I guess very few people are like me in terms of being out. You’ve got Samira [Wiley]. You’ve got Wanda [Sykes] now. You’ve got me. Laverne Cox is out there. RuPaul. But that’s, like, five people. Think of how big Hollywood is. Think of how sizable black Hollywood is. Obviously, there are some people in the industry that are one way at home and a different way on the red carpet, but mind you, I can’t tell those people how to live. All I can do is lead by example,” stated Waithe. 

Naomi Wadler, the 12-year-old activist who has made waves through her outstanding work, shared her experience upon understanding that Trayvon Martin’s death was racially charged and how she’s dealt with discriminatory remarks:

“I was about 5 when Trayvon Martin was shot, and my mom explained that some men thought he was scary because he was brown. That really confused me. Then I’d be reading my book and look up at the news and see people saying that he shouldn’t have been wearing that hoodie, that he wasn’t dressed appropriately — that confused me even more. When I was in preschool, a boy asked me why I was brown, and I’ve had derogatory terms thrown at me, so I’ve known these things my whole life,” shared Wadler. 

Another powerful voice in the Women and Power issue was Dee Rees, the writer and director of the award-winning film Mudbound. Rees is currently directing an adaption of Joan Didion’s The Last Thing He Wanted and is also navigating the choices that she has after her work on Mudbound:

“Early in my career, things were conditional. It was: “You can have this if that” or “If you work with this person, or hire this person, you can do this.” Now, after Mudbound, I have choices. I was able to take a Joan Didion book to a producer and say, “Hi, please option this book for me.” I was able to say, “Hi, hire this writer, Marco Villalobos, to adapt it for me. I know you don’t know him, but he’s great.” It’s just yes, you can do Joan Didion, you can have the cast you want, you can have the creative.My strength is probably my downfall: I’m a straight shooter. So I kinda say what I think. You just understand that it’s gonna get received differently as a black woman. So for me, I don’t change how I am or the content of what I say, but you also know that it’s gonna get processed differently.”

The first Somali-American lawmaker who also happens to be running for Congress this year, Ilhan Omar, spoke on not having to ask her husband for permission to run for congress. Dismantling the beliefs of the East, Omar stated:

“One of the things that people used to ask me on the campaign trail when I first ran was “Did you have permission from your husband and father to run for office?” My dad and my husband would always say, “Oh, these people must not really know you.” It’s been interesting to see the ideas that Western societies have about women in the East. It sounds strange, but I don’t know if I’ve ever had a moment in my life where I didn’t feel like I had power.”

All of these strong, intelligent, powerful have been making serious moves and the word “power” means something different to each and every one of them. For more on these amazing ladies, head to the Cut to read more. 

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