Biopics and true story dramas DOMINATE awards season, so with the Oscar Noms out last week it would seem that **this** year it’s all about the menz. As I always say though, the problem is not male-centric stories, but that there’s just too many of them!

<> on October 19, 2009 in Santa Clarita, California.

With it being a “man’s world” throughout history, one might be forgiven for thinking it’s all rather inevitable that the fellas will take over the true story genre … If it weren’t for the fact this is utter BILGE! There ARE amazing women of history and not just since women’s suffrage and emancipation either – there always have been.

In fact, there are SO many amazing women, I could have continuted this list right into the hundreds if I had time … But since the internet has been compiling their own lists of women who deserve their own biopics (thangyewverymuch) I stuck to those I didn’t see anywhere else, plus those whose stories I could “see”, concept-wise, in my head. Ready? LET’S GO:

1) Queen Zenobia (3rd Century)

Queen Zenobia was a warrior queen who conquered Egypt and challenged Rome, so it’s fair to say she was one kickass lady. What’s more, she was able to keep her head under pressure to such an extent that when her empire fell and she was held captive, she was even able to escape execution and make a new life in Rome! I’d say her life on screen would be FASCINATING. Of course, her tale will need an epic budget, so someone call Ridley Scott, yeah? READ MORE ABOUT HER.

2) Marie Curie (1867 – 1934)

The first woman to win the Nobel Prize AND the only woman to win twice, the medical world owes Curie’s work with radioactivity a massive debt. Her name came up again and again  when I asked the Bang2writers on Twitter which inspiring woman should have a movie of her own. It turns turns out there HAS been a biopic about her already, but in 1943! C’mon screenwriters and filmmakers, let’s get a new version off the ground. READ MORE ABOUT HER.

3) Hedy Lamarr (1894 – 1977)

Hedy Lamarr wasn’t content with just having ONE profession as a drop dead gorgeous movie star, she was an inventor too, helping with WW2 efforts and has been credited with basically inventing WiFi. You’d think a movie would have been made about her before, but SURPRISINGLY NOT, WTF?? (According to Google, anyway). READ MORE ABOUT HER.

Why hasn't there been a biopic of Hedy Lamarr??

Why hasn’t there been a biopic of Hedy Lamarr??

4) Hattie McDaniel (1895 – 1952)

Known best for being the first Black woman to win an oscar for her portrayal of Mammy in Gone With The Wind, Hattie McDaniel was also the first African American to speak on the radio. Of course, Hattie wasn’t even able to GO to the Oscars ceremony to pick up her statuette, so I’d love to see a modern take on that controversy.  READ MORE ABOUT HER.

5) Betty Boothroyd (1929)

You may know her as the ONLY female speaker in the UK House of Commons, but you may also be interested to hear she was also an Anti Apartheid campaigner, too. Betty is an outspoken member of the Labour party and has an acerbic wit, so I’d love to see her story as the flipside to Abi Morgan’s IRON LADY biopic about Margaret Thatcher. READ MORE ABOUT HER.

6) Angela Davis (1944)

Davis is a civil rights activist and feminist thought leader who was once on the FBI’s most wanted list in the 1970s. An icon for black rights, she was sentenced to death for participating in a fatal shooting, but later acquitted. In my mind’s eye, I can see her story as a courtroom tale, focusing on her trial and the international outcry that turned her sentence around.  READ MORE ABOUT HER.

7) Angela E. Oh (1955)

Oh is a (retired) lawyer, but it was her work as a commentator on race after the 1992 LA riots in America that helped her gaina seat on Bill Clinton’s race advisory board. This was such a tumultuous time in the country’s history, plus the lack of penalties for the officers who beat motorist Rodney King (even with videotape evidence) has parallels with the recent Eric Garner case, so Oh’s story could be powerful. READ MORE ABOUT HER.

8) Heather Whitestone McCallum (1973)

Heather Whitestone McCallum was the first deaf woman to win Miss America in 1995. She was feted by the deaf press for her win, though some critics said her disability made no difference, ie. all she had to do was look good in a bathing suit! I think her story could play on this element quite well with reference to equal opportunities and pursuing your dreams no matter what. READ MORE ABOUT HER.

Not suitably inspired yet???

No problem — check out ALL OF THESE AMAZING WOMEN:

The Decision – Celebrating Phenomenal Women

10 Most Badass Women In History

Top 1o Nerdiest Women In History 

100 women who changed the world

Women In World History 

15 Historical Queer Women Who Need Their Own Biopic

13 Black Women Who’ve Changed History 

130 Inspiring Asian Americans

10 Black Women who Deserve their Own Biopics

Disability Movies – Movies about and by people with disabilities

C’mon screenwriters and filmmakers, let’s get these inspirational women’s stories told and OUT THERE!

PsulitHyFor more on writing biopics and true stories, don’t forget to check out my new screenwriting book, Writing And Selling Drama Screenplays, which covers in-depth the true story of Mary Poppins author PL Travers’ battle of wills with Walt Disney himself in SAVING MR BANKS, as well as other case studies and information on getting your own story off the ground! BUY IT NOW.

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12 Responses to 8 Female-Centric Biopics That Need Writing NOW

  1. karen says:

    Hi Lucy not only are thses women incredible but I would happily pay to see the biopic of each and every one. These aren’t just incredible women they are incredible human beings and their lives would not just serve as big screeen entertainment but as an education in humanity.
    Thank you for posting
    Karen x

  2. mark dark says:

    Thanks. And for the list links. I wish Nanny of the Maroons had been included on the 13 black women who have changed history. She led the rebellion and helped free slaves under British colonial rule in 18th Century Jamaica:

    “Nanny is known as one of the earliest leaders of slave resistance in the Americas, and one of very few women.”

  3. james jay says:

    Great post, well said…heres another one for the list….Coretta King…MLK’s wife…might be an interesting movie, his life but from her POV…

    • Lucy V Hay says:

      Interestingly, a spate of spec screenplays came across the B2W desk from a few prodcos and screen agencies that detailed the lives of very famous/renowned men, from their wives’ POVs … sadly none came to fruition that I know about. Shame!

  4. Hi Lucy,
    I just want to thank you for this amazing list. Sparking all kinds of story ideas… As an American writer and women’s historian, all I do is watch the unending march of “the stories of amazing men” from HBO’s John Adams to the History Channel’s current miniseries “Sons of Liberty.” There are so many women’s lives that would ignite on film or television and have yet to have even the inkling of a chance. The Honorable Woman, while wholly impressive, is still about a fictional woman (oh, and written by a man). It is long past time to tell the real stories of the women who have also made history. I am currently working on a script about the life of Mary Wollstonecraft. And as I’ve had so many interesting responses to my project, I started tangentially writing a comedic screenplay about someone like me even trying to convince the world that these stories are worthy and the often hilarious difficulties we face. Again, it is so wonderful to know that, across the pond, I have a fellow writer who agrees that there are so many (women’s) stories that beg to be told. I will do may part to help along this vision and just wanted to thank you for doing yours. Best, Allison

  5. Claire says:

    Totally agree on all of these, and I’d add Greta Garbo and Lady Jane Hamilton (the latter maybe not strictly inspiring… but she was cool).

  6. scoo says:

    Angela Davis was a radical and a communist and no kind of good example for anyone. egadddss….

    Besides that, it is VERY difficult to do a bio pic unless you can afford to option books and have connections to do so, and also you have to deal with the person’s living family. The only good way to do a bio pic if you are a newbie is write about a dead person with no living relatives.

    You act like we should just pick a person and start writing…if you want to get sued, then go ahead…

    • Lucy V Hay says:

      Aaaaaah I wondered how long it would take before someone decided who was and was NOT “worthy” of having a biopic … After all, radicals and communists don’t have interesting lives (??) … and that’s assuming being a radical or a communist is actually a bad thing in comparison to say, the many, many biopics of male serial killers and genocidal leaders!

      As for there apparently only being “one good way” to do a biopic, as you may see at the bottom of the post, in one of my books I did a case study on SAVING MR BANKS, which incorporated Walt Disney, whose image is FIERCELY guarded by his company. What did Ruby Films do? Go for it regardless, a gamble that paid off.

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