Time’s New Multimedia Series Profiles 23 ‘First’ Women and Girls of Color

By Sameer Rao Sep 07, 2017

Time magazine recognizes women pioneers in arenas as varied as U.S. Congress, university laboratories, film sets and even outer space with a new article and video series that profiles 46 women and girls who are "firsts." Half of them are women and girls of color.

Time published the full "Firsts: Women Who Are Changing The World" series to its website today (September 7). An emailed press release notes that most of the stories will also run in a special September 18 print issue, which features 12 variant covers. "Selma" director Ava DuVernay and Little League baseball champion Mo’ne Davis star on their own covers, as do Minnesota state legislator Ilhan Omar, entertainment mogul Oprah Winfrey, singer Selena Gomez and the United States’ United Nations representative Nikki Haley

Each story runs with the honoree’s self-written testimonial to perseverance despite barriers, with many noting the influence their mothers had on their self-determination. From two of those essays:

"For women and women of color, if you walk into a STEM environment, you will be the minority in the room. Everybody has their eye on your work. Instead of your differences becoming a burden, it should be an opportunity for you to distinguish yourself. That’s what I turned those two ‘strikes’ into.” — Ursula Burns, Xerox chairwoman

"There’s so much subtlety in the sexism and racism in this industry that you either have to call it out and risk being shunned, or move past it and find your own entryway. I’m definitely in the latter category. I put my blinders up and ignore it: ‘Nope! I’m going to do it anyway or find another way in.’" —Issa Rae, “Insecure” and “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” auteur

The publication pairs many of these profiles, which were compiled for an upcoming standalone book, with video that features the honorees’ words over clips from their photoshoots. Time published videos for Shondaland executive Shonda Rhimes, Olympian gymnast Gabby Douglas and soul music veteran Aretha Franklin to its Twitter feed with the hashtag #SheIsTheFirst

Here’s the full list of women and girls of color featured in Time’s "Firsts," complete with links to their own reflections and the magazine’s list of their firsts:

  • Patricia Bath, "first person to invent and demonstrate laserphaco cataract surgery"
  • Ursula Burns, "first Black woman to run a Fortune 500 company"
  • Mo’ne Davis, "first girl to pitch a shutout and win a game in a Little League World Series"
  • Gabby Douglas, "first American gymnast to win solo and team all-around gold medals at one Olympics"
  • Rita Dove, "first Black U.S. poet laureate"
  • Ava DuVernay, "first Black woman to direct a film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar"
  • Aretha Franklin, "first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame"
  • Selena Gomez, "first person to reach 100 million followers on Instagram"
  • Nikki Haley, "first Indian-American woman to be elected governor"
  • Carla Hayden, "first woman and first African American to be Librarian of Congress"
  • Mazie Hirono, "first Asian-American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate"
  • Mae Jemison, "first woman of color in space"
  • Maya Lin, "first woman to design a memorial on the National Mall"
  • Loretta Lynch, "first Black woman to become U.S. Attorney General"
  • Rita Moreno, "first Latina to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony"
  • Jennifer Yuh Nelson, "first woman to solo-direct a major Hollywood animated feature"
  • Ilhan Omar, "first Somali-American Muslim woman to become a legislator"
  • Michelle Phan, "first woman to build a $500 million company from a web series"
  • Issa Rae, "first Black woman to create and star in a premium cable series"
  • Shonda Rhimes, "first woman to create three hit shows with more than 100 episodes each"
  • Geisha Williams, "first Latina CEO of a Fortune 500 company"
  • Serena Williams, "first tennis player to win 23 Grand Slam singles titles in the open era"
  • Oprah Winfrey, "first woman to own and produce her own talk show"