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This year, in honor of Marie Claire's 25th anniversary, our New Guard list is all about women who have celebrated their own milestones. The storied ambition gap? You won’t find it here. Instead, prepare yourself for a massive dose of career inspiration.
Nora “Awkwafina” Lum is the actress of the moment: She’s made us laugh (Ocean’s 8and Crazy Rich Asians), cry (her moving performance in 2019’s The Farewell), and jump up and down about what’s to come: Jumanji: The Next Level, The Little Mermaid, and Comedy Central’s Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens.
This year, Biles won her sixth U.S. Championship title, the first time a woman has achieved such a feat in over 50 years, and in August she was the first female gymnast ever to land a triple-double. With the 2020 Olympics ahead, we’re confident that Biles will continue to leap, dive, and flip into history.
Boden may not have been the face of Marvel’s Captain Marvel, but she was our behind-the-camera hero. As the Marvel franchise’s first ever female director (she codirected the film with Ryan Fleck), Boden helped Captain Marvel make over $1 billion at the box office. Next up: FX’s limited series Mrs. America.
In 1993, Carter was the first black woman to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design (for her work on Malcolm X). In 2019, after creating Black Panther’s African-inspired looks, she became the first black woman to win the category, cementing her status as an industry icon.
Draper may be a fourth-generation venture capitalist, but she’s carving her own path in the investment world. Her firm Halogen Ventures backs female-founded companies exclusively, and six of her companies have sold, including two for over $100 million each
The Funny Girl:
Comedian and Host, Nailed It!
Stand-up comedian Byer’s quick wit helped lock in an Emmy nomination for season three of Nailed It!, the Netflix show she hosts that features amateur bakers notoriously hopeless in the kitchen. Byer serves up hilarious one-liners that make the unpalatable seem delicious, giving viewers reason to return season after season.
Three years. That’s how long Erskine (left) and Konkle, along with cocreator Sam Zvibleman, spent shopping their script for Pen15 before it found a home at Hulu. In the series, which premiered in February to rave reviews and became last winter’s must-watch show, the thirtysomething creators don fake braces and wigs to play themselves as seventh graders alongside a mostly tween cast. In May, Hulu renewed the show for a second season, much to the delight of fans everywhere.
In December, Gelman raised $75 million to expand her fast-growing chain of women’s coworking spaces. The company will soon have 11 locations in seven cities, including London. It also launched Little Wing, a kids’ playroom, at several Wing locations in January. Perfect timing: Gelman had her first child this fall.
Gaines parlayed her Fixer Upper success (she starred on the hit HGTV show with her husband, Chip) into an empire, including a home-decor compound in Waco, Texas; exclusive lines for Target, Anthropologie, and more; a handful of restaurants; and, in 2020, a new home-improvement network.
Cofounder and CEO, Rent the Runway
Hyman officially joined the unicorn club in March when her clothing-rental company, whose unlimited subscription service now makes up 60 percent of revenue, raised $125 million at a billion-dollar valuation. She started raising funds while six months pregnant with her second child, closed the deal at nine months, and is also celebrating her company’s 10-year anniversary in November.
A trailblazer in venture capital, Lee was the first woman named partner by one of Silicon Valley’s most successful investment firms, Sequoia Capital. She’s already added a bevy of female founders to Sequoia’s portfolio by investing in companies such as Re:Store, Maven, Dia & Co, and the Wing.
Martin’s production company signed a first-look deal with Universal in February, making her the youngest person ever to achieve such a feat. (She’s 15.) She got her behind-the-camera start at age 10, when she pitched Black-ish creator Kenya Barris an idea that became the comedy Little, released in April.
Matsoukas first gained national recognition after directing Beyoncé’s “Formation” music video in 2016. (She’s also worked with Rihanna and Lady Gaga.) This November, the director is taking her chops to the big screen with her feature-directorial debut, Queen & Slim, written by Lena Waithe and already garnering award buzz for its Bonnie and Clyde vibes and depiction of police brutality and racism in America.
This year, Oh was the Golden Globes’s first Asian host, the first Asian woman to win multiple Golden Globes (for Grey’s Anatomy and Killing Eve), and the first Asian woman to win best actress in a drama in 39 years. Oh fans will get their fix in 2020: Killing Eve was renewed for a third season.
The Fresh Face:
The name’s Lynch. Lashana Lynch. (We had to.) The British actress was cast as 007 in the upcoming film No Time to Die, making her the first woman and person of color to lead a film in the franchise. Earlier this year, she made her action debut as Carol Danvers’s copilot and best friend in Captain Marvel, solidifying her status as Hollywood’s newest crime-fighting hero.
Redefining “work,” @badgirlriri has grown her musical talents into a $600 million empire that now includes Fenty Beauty, lingerie line Savage X Fenty, and Fenty, a clothing and accessories brand with fashion powerhouse LVMH. This makes Rihanna the first black woman to head a fashion house at the storied company.
In January, Rodriguez, who has worked with director Alfonso Cuarón for 15 years, became the first Latina ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, for Roma, the Mexican drama that was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, and walked away with Best Foreign Language Film, Best Cinematography, and Best Director.
There was an audible sound of shattered glass in June when Sarnoff, a Hollywood outsider who spent the previous nine years at BBC America, took over as chairman and CEO of one of Hollywood’s largest studios, Warner Bros. Sarnoff is the first female executive to fill the role in the studio’s nearly 100-year history.
When you go by only your first name at age 26, you have to have serious pipes (see: Adele, Beyoncé). Rosalía, the Catalañan flamenco singer turned international pop star, wowed at the 2019 Video Music Awards with two wins (for her song “Con Altura,” featured on Barack Obama’s summer playlist). She’s also a style authority: In May, she launched her second collection with Spanish retailer Pull & Bear, much to the joy of her five million Instagram followers. Up next for the artist: Reportedly a collab with none other than Queen Bey herself.
Finally, a good reason to stay up on a school night. Singh, who got her start on YouTube, is the first woman to host a late-night show on a Big Four network in almost two decades—and she’s the first bisexual woman of color to do so. Ever. NBC’s A Little Late With Lilly Singh, which premiered in September, gives Singh an even bigger platform to riff on hot topics, all while making us laugh.
Waller-Bridge has become synonymous with edgy, feminist must-watch TV. (Hello, Killing Eve and Fleabag.) She’s on the writing team for No Time to Die, making her the first woman to be credited on a James Bond screenplay since 1963, and her new television series, Run, was bought by HBO in March.
Weiss’s Glossier, reportedly valued at $1.2 billion, just added unicorn to its list of descriptors. The millennial poster girl for beauty startup mania led her company to over $100 million in sales last year with new retail pop-ups and beauty products that the Instagram-obsessed will stand in lines for. (One Boy Brow—$16—was sold every 32 seconds last year.)
With 23 Grand Slam titles, you’d think Williams has her hands full. Yet in April, she made her venture work—she had already invested in 34 startups over the past five years—official with the launch of her own fund. Already, 60 percent of its investments have gone to women or people of color.
Wong’s rom-com Always Be My Maybe premiered in May, winning over critics, depicting Asian American relationships without the stereotypical tropes, and helping fuel the Keanu-ssance. (Reeves stars as one of Wong’s love interests in the film.) This after two Netflix stand-up specials and a sold-out comedy tour—and her first book, Dear Girls, was published in October.
Clarification: The previous version of this story misstated Stitch Fix’s revenue and the launch date of Away's new businesses.
This story appears in the November 2019 issue of Marie Claire.
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