Meet the 50-plus women making sure that female voices are heard in the world of culture
The latest shortlist of nominees in our 50 Over 50 Awards, in partnership with JD Williams, has been announced.
The Awards celebrate 50+ women who are making a real difference to our world, and the five names on our Champions of the Arts and making significant waves in the world of culture.
They include the woman behind some of our favourite midlife TV programmes and the female architect behind one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks.
The winners of this and all 10 categories in the 50 Over 50 Awards will be revealed at an exclusive Woman & Home event in the autumn.
Until then, read more about our Champions of the Arts shortlist below…
The co-founder of the Women’s Fiction Prize
Kate co-founded the prestigious Women’s Prize in 1996 in response to an all-male Booker shortlist. In its infancy, it was controversial to have a female-only award.
She is also the best-selling author of the Languedoc trilogy (Labyrinth won the Best Book Award in 1996), and has just published the first book in a new series, The Burning Chambers.
Kate says: “I wanted to celebrate women’s creative voices from all over the world, to make sure that the quiet and often overlooked experiences are put centre stage.
“My career has been haphazard, joyous and lucky, and every new book feels special and miraculous. But without the support of family and friends there wouldn’t be much point. It’s the sharing of success (and also the failure) that matters.”
The TV genius who puts our lives on screen
Kay is one of our most prolific TV scriptwriters, best known for much-loved TV series Girlfriends, Fat Friends and Band of Gold, often focusing on relationships, love and sex with humour and honesty.
She has won many awards including a BAFTA and a Writers Guild Award.
Kay says: “I like to think I’ve changed the goalposts and more women have been employed because of my skills. Also, I’ve created a lot
of work in the North of England so TV isn’t as London-centric these days. When I started, people didn’t even know where Leeds was!”
The Liverpool-born artist who exhibits worldwide
Chila is a multi-media artist who merges Bollywood bling with politics and childhood memories. She’s one of the few UK artists to be exhibited internationally.
Growing up in 50s Liverpool, her father had an ice cream van, and she often uses objects like cones and lolly wrappers in her work.
Chila says: “I use so many different media because I love to make a mess in my studio, and I find my work so satisfying.
“I’m motivated by meeting good women, like Anita Choudhrie, founder of the Stellar International Arts Foundation, who has brought my work to the world.
“People expect Asian women to be doctors or accountants, but I’m just going for it and letting nothing get in my way.”
The film pioneer
Amanda set up the BFI Film Academy, which has given bursaries and training to over 5,000 young people who want a career in film.
Amanda won the Social Purpose Award in the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Awards.
Amanda says: “Talent is everywhere but opportunity isn’t, so I’m proud that we’ve created a new pathway. I’m motivated by opening doors for young people who dream about entering this magical industry.
“I don’t have a creative bone in my body, so a job that helps others follow their creative calling is a huge privilege and joy.”
The inventor of the London Eye
Julia conceived and designed the London Eye along with her husband David Marks (who died recently). As no one would fund the development of this London landmark, they founded their own company and raised the money themselves.
Today the Eye is the most popular paid visitor attraction in the UK and has won over 85 awards.
Their practice has also built the i360 by Brighton’s West Pier – a vertical viewing platform inspired by a Victorian hot-air balloon ride.
Julia says: “As part of the permanent planning permission, we ensured that 1% of ticket sales go to the local community in perpetuity. That has been no small sum over the years.
“Architecture is a bridge between the arts and science – at school I resisted choosing one or the other as I liked them both.
“My proudest achievement is knowing our projects put a smile on people’s faces.”