Gemini Girls Who Changed The World
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Josephine Baker, dancer and activist (June 3, 1906)
Born in St. Louis, Missouri as Freda Josephine McDonald, Baker (she took her name from her second husband) began to dance in vaudeville and Broadway shows at just 13. In the 1920s, she moved to France where she became a star and symbol of the Harlem Renaissance. During World War II, Baker worked for the Red Cross and gathered intelligence for the French Resistance. Always an advocate for racial equality and acceptance, Baker adopted 12 children from around the world (maybe sister-fellow Gemini Angelina Jolie was inspired by Baker!). After returning to America, Baker was denied service at a club and spoke out. She refused to perform at any segregated club or theater and spoke at the March on Washington alongside Martin Luther King Jr. We can all learn from Josephine Baker to stand up for our rights!
Joyce Carol Oates, writer (June 16, 1938)
A prolific author, Joyce Carol Oates has been writing since childhood and has won countless awards for her literature. Even before she could write, Oates had a knack for storytelling. When she was 14, she received a typewriter and began to write constantly. This practice most certainly paid off, as she won the Mademoiselle fiction contest in college. In the 1960s, Oates published a book of short stories. Shortly after, she published another before delving into long-form writing. Publishing an average of two books a year, Oates has written in an incredible number of genres, including novels about the female experience, one of which, Solstice, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.
Octavia Spencer, actress (May 25, 1970)
Octavia Spencer never imagined that she would spend her time in front of the camera, although it was her dream. Instead, she began working behind the scenes, casting for movies, until a director asked her to audition for a part. Spencer got that part and worked alongside Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, and Samuel L. Jackson. Spencer was able to get other acting jobs, but knew that she had to work hard and take lessons to get better at her craft and land bigger roles. Her breakout performance, however, came when she was cast as Minny in The Help. Spencer won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, one of just six African-American women to win an Oscar in a competitive category.
Venus Williams, tennis player (June 17, 1980)
For Venus Williams, tennis was an escape route from Compton, California. Her father pushed his daughters (Williams’ sister Serena is also a strong female tennis player) to succeed on the court so they could use their talent to be whomever they wanted. Williams’ serve topped 100 mph by the time she was 10 years old, and she turned pro at just 14. Williams has won seven Grand Slam titles–five Wimbledon championships and two Olympic gold medals (one with Serena). Despite a number of injuries that kept her off the court, Williams has returned with a vengeance, winning Wimbledon twice before taking the gold in Beijing. Not only is Williams fierce on the court, she also works with UNESCO to promote gender equality worldwide. There’s no stopping this Gemini!
Natalie Portman, actress (June 9, 1981)
Born in Israel but raised in New York, Natalie Portman never let modeling or acting get in the way of her education. Discovered at 11 years old, Portman began to model, but found it boring, so she pursued a career in acting. She took lessons at a theater arts camp and performed in local roles before being cast on the big screen. Working alongside stars like Uma Thurman and Glenn Close, Portman held her own. In 1997, she took a break from the movies and played Anne Frank (a fellow Jewish Gemini) in The Diary of Anne Frank, a role for which Portman received great praise. While working hard to film movies and act in theater, Portman remained diligent in her school work and eventually graduated from Harvard in 2003.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, actresses (June 13, 1986)
As twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen truly embody what it is to be a Gemini. Their acting careers began when they were just babies when they were cast as Michelle Tanner in Full House. The twins grew up in front of the camera, putting out an incredible number of straight-to-video movies and feature films (this was before DVDs!). Living in the spotlight was a lot of pressure and Mary-Kate developed an eating disorder, but took back control of her body after she got help. Since then, the twins have launched a number of fashion lines and they have taken full control of their company, Dualstar Entertainment. At just 25, this dynamic duo continues to work hard and stay savvy in the world of business so they can continue their many successes.
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