Get inspired over the holidays with our summer watch list of shows featuring women courageously stepping outside their comfort zone to make a brave leap in their career. By Jacqui Ooi.
What could the next 20 years of your work life look like? If you’ve been thinking about making a change – whether that’s to upsize, downsize or completely change your career – part of it is knowing what your options are, the other part is a big dose of self-belief that you can do it.
When it comes to building that courage, I’ve found it very inspiring and motivating to soak up the stories of other women who’ve made brave leaps in their careers. Of course, I can recommend a certain podcast full of such inspiring stories! But while you’re enjoying some couch time over the holidays, why not add some inspirational viewing to your watch list.
Here are some shows that got me inspired this year and at different stages of my career change journey.
Ok I did not expect to love this J.Lo doco but it really hooked me in! It was so much deeper and more interesting than I expected and from a career change perspective, her journey from dancer to actor to singer – in an industry that had opinions about being more than one thing and as a woman of colour – was groundbreaking and inspiring. I even wrote down this line from the show because it was so goosebumpy: “She’s a dancer, who became an actor, who became a singer, who became a global icon. She’s a woman of colour who had the audacity to pursue her dreams.”
Career takeaway: You can embrace all of your talents and be more than one thing!
Chef’s Table: Pizza (Netflix)
I thought I was sitting down to watch a foodie show but this turned out to be filled with incredibly inspiring career stories of people treading their own unique path and rising to the top of their game. Two of the six episodes feature women: I loved the story of Ann Kim (pictured), who defied cultural and family expectations to forge a career path that felt true to her (“If you give people the freedom to just be themselves, some amazing things can happen,” she says); and the courage and self-belief of Sarah Minnick who opened a pizza restaurant, having never made pizza before, but trusting that she could learn and get better as she went (spoiler alert: she did!). It’s a beautifully shot, beautifully told series – and you’ll definitely be adding some of these pizza places to your travel bucket list.
Career takeaway: You can tread your own path, however different it may be!
Knock Down the House (Netflix)
This one’s a few years old now but I LOVED this doco, which follows four women running for Congress in the US with little in the way of political experience, but with big dreams and goals to make the world better. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the star of the show and her career move from waitress to political powerhouse is about as inspiring as it gets.
Closer to home, if you’ve been following the rise of the (mostly female) Independents here in Australia, you might also enjoy Independent Woman, a recent episode of Australian Story on ABC iView, which takes viewers on the campaign trail with the ‘godmother’ of the Independents movement, Cathy McGowan.
Career takeaway: You can be the change you want to see in the world – women are rising!
Ms Represented with Annabel Crabb (ABC iView)
Yes I’m on a political roll now but if you missed this four-part doco on ABC, which looks at the history of women in politics in Australia, it is filled with a who’s who of courageous women who’ve fought for representation and gender equality in our parliaments. From those who stepped into the ring at a time when there weren’t even any women’s toilets at Parliament House to those continuing the fight today, it shows you how far we’ve come (despite having a long way to go). And I still can’t watch Julia Gillard’s iconic misogyny speech without tearing up!
Career takeaway: You can make your mark in a male-dominated industry – and make it easier for the next woman!
Gutsy (Apple TV+)
It took me a little while to warm to this series but it’s worth sticking with for the breadth of women and stories they uncover. Mum and daughter Hillary and Chelsea Clinton host the show, criss-crossing America and beyond to meet brave and inspiring women from a whole range of backgrounds – both household names and unsung heroes – shining a light on the great work they’re doing to shake up the status quo and be a force for good in the world.
Career takeaway: You can find connection, meaning and purpose in life, in so many different ways!
I hope these shows provide plenty of inspirational viewing for you over the break, so you can start the new year feeling excited and motivated to make the brave leap you’ve been wanting to make. And if there are other shows you’d like to see on this list, I’d love to hear about them! Please feel free to add them in the comments below.
Jacqui Ooi is a two-time career changer and the founder of What She Did Next. She’s on a mission to inspire women to make brave leaps in their careers and take advantage of all the opportunities available to us now.
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