Lea Michele: Ladies, It’s Time to Bring Back Sisterhood!

The Glee and Scream Queens star writes about why it’s time for women to empower women, and her new campaign #ActuallySheCan, which does just that.

For years, women have been using their voices to articulate their goals and vision of the female ambition. They have used their voices as a means towards progress and equality, to express their dreams, and hopes for the future. They have used their voices to share their stories, to encourage understanding and build community.

The voices of courageous women who have championed female ambition are countless. I am thankful to know a world with the voices of such strong women starting as early as the strong women in my family—my mom, my aunts—and also strong women in my field, from my personal hero, the legendary singer Barbra Streisand, to feminists like Gloria Steinem and Eve Ensler, to one-name wonders like Oprah and Madonna and all of my inspiring female contemporaries in entertainment and business. These women have been fearless, and in doing so, they have offered us a better view.

Self-expression is vital to our identities and important for the future of our communities. Yet too often, women are not encouraged to express ourselves. We are held to unrealistic media standards, airbrushed in order to be more perfect, and even told to change the very things that make us unique to fit into a mold. Too often, female expression is stifled. The truth about women is skewed in popular culture, and so many young girls reading the weekly magazines in the grocery checkout aisle are left to wonder where they fit in. While there are so many trailblazers for change there are still stories that aren’t being heard—young women who are not being acknowledged for who they are, and what they are doing.

History has told us that giving women a voice is important and can be a catalyst for change. Yet so often women pit themselves against one another rather than come together. I hold this truth to be self-evident: I owe my voice to the unwavering support of a select group of family, friends, and believers who encouraged me to keep going despite disappointments and failures. To say this support was life-changing would not be an exaggeration. My voice has not only provided me with a career and innumerable opportunities, but more personally, it has helped me to work through some of my insecurities and make peace with myself—flaws and all. At the end of the day, we are all human and have moments of doubt but my voice has pushed me forward and it has nurtured my confidence and self-worth. I talk about this often in both of my books and it’s something I believe I have made happen for myself.

Because of the gifts my voice has given me, I have decided to use it to aid many campaigns and teachings that empower others. Most recently in campaigns like #ActuallySheCan—a movement that celebrates female ambition and champions the goals of the millennial generation. #ActuallySheCan praises millennial women for their successes and encourages them to believe in their individual and collective potential. It gives millennial women everywhere a chance to vocalize their aspirations and be themselves, and I am proud to be a part of it.

The risks I take in my personal and professional life feel less scary because I am surrounded by a strong network of vibrant females who want the best for each other. Working with actresses like Kate Hudson in Glee and Emma Roberts in Scream Queens has not only given me lifelong friends and confidants, but they have taught me a few things which I can share with others. Kate simply lives her life with happiness and puts positivity into every situation. Emma constantly is trying new things—like pilates and spin—and motivating me to do the same. I have embraced these friendships and as a result my overall health and wellness has been enhanced. And these are only a few amazing ladies I have met along the way.

The stories us women share can educate and influence the power of their peers. If millennial women come together and embrace campaigns like #ActuallySheCan they will find a place where they can be themselves, get information about their careers, relationships, health and wellness, and find advocates.

I realize that every millennial woman has a different reality and my reality is not the same. In my own ways, I have lived, felt loss, and felt unsure just like everyone else, so I can appreciate that navigating life can be hard and that believing in yourself sometimes can be the biggest obstacle.

I have tried through my books, my music and my work to use my voice to help others. I encourage all millennial women to stand proudly on the platform and share their voices in the best way they know how—and to support others that do the same. We have to be diligent, we have to be willing to take risks, we have to be willing to celebrate one another and accept the challenges we face individually and collectively.

#ActuallySheCan is a reminder that I can, that She can, and that We can.

Join the #ActuallySheCan movement here.