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International Women's Day: West End actors name their own inspirational ladies

It's time to celebrate some of the magnificent women working within the theatre industry!

Kira Malou, Aimie Atkinson, Mazz Murray and Renée Lamb
(© Mark Senior / Helen Maybanks / Brinkhoff-Moegenburg / Pamela Raith)

In honour of International Women's Day – and all the pioneering, fearless females who work in this industry – we decided to mark the occasion by asking four current leading ladies to share their thoughts with us on their own inspirational women from Theatreland.

Mamma Mia!'s Mazz Murray

Emma Mullen and Mazz Murray in Mamma Mia!
© Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

"There are so many inspirational women within my industry – within Mamma Mia! alone we have sound technicians, electricians, followspot operators, choreographers, dance captains, stage managers, front of house theatre managers and heads of wardrobe and dressers and designers. We are a strong community within theatre – most of whom are parents and juggle mummy/working duties like swans. But the prize has to go to Judy Craymer, she has kept this show alive through 9000 plus performances, through world pandemics, London bombings, severe weather, power cuts... you name it. She had an idea nearly 23 years ago, and didn't give up. She was so supportive through lockdown and bringing the show back earlier last year. Worldwide productions, movies, albums. Impressive beyond. She is also absolutely fabulous to boot. Silver platform boots. Obviously!"

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World's Renée Lamb

Renée Lamb and Eva-Marie Saffrey in Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World
© Pamela Raith

"I'm so lucky to be working on a job where our entire cast is women, and our creative team too. I love International Women's Day as it feels like a reminder of significance. Stories that are told from the female gaze are so necessary, now more than ever. I've been inspired by so many women in this industry – and am every day – but the first one was Donna Haywood, my head of course at Tring Park School, who taught me never to change who I am for anyone."

Dirty Dancing's Kira Malou

Kira Malou and Michael O'Reilly in Dirty Dancing
© Mark Senior

"There are many women in this industry who have inspired me, guided me and taught me and without them I wouldn't be where I am now. I believe it is so important as a performer to have role models and strong women to look up to and I've been lucky enough to have had the most amazing on-stage mums to play alongside such as Lori Fox and Jackie Morrison who have been the perfect example of this. Both these amazing women have incredible work ethics and tell stories on stage with such commitment and ease. I'm so thankful for the both of them that have taught me so much about being a performer and a woman in this business. Our industry is blessed to have so many incredible women creating stories, telling them and helping them come together in the rehearsal room and backstage. I am grateful for the women with the strong voices and the women that continue to create safe spaces for us. Happy International Women's Day!"

Pretty Woman's Aimie Atkinson

Aimie Atkinson and the cast of Pretty Woman: The Musical
© Helen Maybanks

"Rachael Wooding inspires me every day and not only because of her ability to smash it out of the park eight shows a week playing Kit De Luca in Pretty Woman. Honestly, I don't know how she does it! I watch her in awe every night, she is a force to be reckoned with, but she is also a mum and manages to balance her work and her mummy duties all with a smile and she still manages to have time for anyone who knocks on her door with their problems. She is without a doubt one of the most electric performers in the West End and the most wonderful mother, but above all she is a good, kind person and I am so proud to be her friend. Keep inspiring, Rach!"

Rachael Wooding and Aimie Atkinson
© Aimie Atkinson