Chicago as Inspiration

In the recent entertainment history, Chicago is most recognized as the base of the most popular American daytime talk show – The Oprah Winfrey Show – which aired for 25 years from Harpo studios in Chicago, starring one of the city’s most famous residents, Oprah Winfrey, who said: “I set foot in this city, and just walking down the street, it was like roots, like the motherland. I knew I belonged here.”

Other TV and cinema productions that took place in Chicago and starred lead female roles, include:

Famous American women who worked in the city and found inspiration among its streets and parks, include professionals from various fields, such as actresses, a dancer, a supermodel, a screenwriter, and three first ladies: Blanche Sweet, Gina Rodriguez, Katherine Dunham, Cindy Crawford, Shonda Rhimes, Betty Ford, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama.

As a cultural hub, Chicago also nurtured female entrepreneurship in the local arts – Abena Joan Brown founded Creative Arts Foundation, a theater and art gallery dedicated to the African-American aesthetic; Barbara Gaines established the Chicago Shakespeare Theater; dancer Joan Gray was a president of the Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago; and Lois Weisberg who served as commissioner of Cultural Affairs for three decades.

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