7 Inspiring Women Working to Change the World… And How!

News   7 Inspiring Women Working to Change the World… And How!
As part of our Women in Theatre Week, Playbill.com recognizes some of the fearless females in the entertainment industry who are working to make the world a better place.


Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth is a chameleon of a performer, gracing the stage and the screen throughout her multi-faceted career, so it's no surprise that she devotes her time and energy to a number of different charities. She helped to launch the animal charity Maddie's Corner, named in honor of her dog Madeline. Maddie's Corner is devoted to "inspire a more humane, thoughtful and tolerant society that will benefit the quality of life of both people and animals." Chenoweth has also launched a new charity partnership with the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center in her Oklahoma hometown with the goal of bringing "the world of visual and performing arts to Broken Arrow." She is also involved with The Red Cross, Broadway Cares/EFA, The Point Foundation, ASTEP, Breast Cancer awareness and adoption avocation. Visit maddiescorner.org and brokenarrowpac.com/give.html for more information.

Kristin Chenoweth with her dog Madeline
Kristin Chenoweth with her dog Madeline


Audra McDonald One only has to look at Audra McDonald's Twitter handle to learn of one of her passions: marriage equality. The record-breaking Tony winner utilizes the handle @AudraEqualityMc and also sits on the advisory board for the marriage equality advocacy organization Broadway Impact. In June 2011 she performed at the Democratic National Committee's LGBT Leadership Dinner and sang at New York City Hall employee John Feinblatt and Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Jonathan Mintz's wedding reception. Officiated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the wedding marked one of the first gay marriages in the state of New York in 2011.

McDonald was one of the most prominent members of the theatre community to express her unhappiness with Indiana Governor Mike Pence when he signed into law the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, effectively allowing state business owners to discriminate against gays if serving them conflicts with their religion.

.@GovPenceIN Some in my band are gay & we have 2 gigs in your state next month. Should we call ahead to make sure the hotel accepts us all?

.@GovPenceIN or could you maybe send us a list of where its okay for us to go? Might the law apply to me?(I'm black).

McDonald didn't cancel her performance. Instead, she donated the proceeds to the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom Indiana.

Audra McDonald's photo for the NOH8 campaign
Audra McDonald's photo for the NOH8 campaign Photo by Adam Bouska


Martha Plimpton

The founder of the organization A is For, Martha Plimpton is fiercely devoted to advancing women's reproductive rights. Founded in 2012, the nonprofit is dedicated ending the stigma against abortion care. A is For envisions a world in which every woman has access to the full spectrum of reproductive choice. Plimpton recently hosted the event Broadway Acts for Women, a karaoke fundraiser, at 54 Below.

"We're trying to put a human face on this issue," Plimpton told Playbill.com in a previous interview. "This affects us directly. It shouldn't just be about controlling women's sexual lives. This is about people's lives. I'm incredibly impressed and proud to know the people participating in this event. I'm aware that it's a controversial issue, and we're working to make it non-controversial. The more people who participate and speak out, the more that's possible." For more information, visit aisfor.org.

Martha Plimpton wearing an 'A' on the Tony Awards red carpet
Martha Plimpton wearing an 'A' on the Tony Awards red carpet Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN


Idina Menzel

The star of Wicked, Rent and If/Then, as well as "Glee," Idina Menzel's voice became synonymous with strong women when she gave (a very powerful) voice to Queen Elsa in the hit animated film "Frozen." Menzel's devotion to empowering young girls goes beyond entertainment; in 2010, she founded the organization A BroaderWay with Taye Diggs, which holds a summer camp program for girls from urban environments. The campers are provided with opportunities for outdoor activities like swimming and rock climbing, as well as studying the performing arts to offer them opportunities for self-expression. Visit abroaderway.org for more information.

Idina Menzel promoting A Broader Way's Snowman Challenge
Idina Menzel promoting A Broader Way's Snowman Challenge


Bette Midler

Bette Midler is widely acclaimed for her successful career in acting and singing, but she is also devoted to creating a "cleaner, greener New York City." Since Midler founded it in 1995, the New York Restoration Project "has planted trees, renovated gardens, restored parks, and transformed open space for communities throughout New York City’s five boroughs." More information can be found by visiting NYRP.org.

Bette Midler
Bette Midler


Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore

Award-winning actors and friends Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore have long been the face of Broadway Barks, a dog and cat adoption event that is held yearly and benefits New York City animal shelters and adoption agencies. Produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Broadway Barks has helped more than 250,000 dogs and cats find homes. Peters — with illustrator Liz Murphy — has also penned three children's books that benefit the charity. VIsit broadwaybarks.com for more information.

Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters at Broadway Barks
Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters at Broadway Barks Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

(Carey Purcell is the Features Editor of Playbill.com. Her work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow her on Twitter @PlaybillCarey.)

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