Movies + TV

Characters to Channel for Confidence

Badasses I will never be.

Sometimes I get into situations where I need to boost my confidence. I look to these characters, these badasses I will never be, and try to channel their subtle insults, their cool demeanors, and their threatening presence. It probably doesn’t work, but at least I try!

1. Rayanne Graff from My So-Called Life

Do I even need to explain? Rayanne doesn’t care what people think. She is as loud and funny and crazy as she wants to be, and everyone else can just deal. The episode where she tells Jordan Catalano at the Buffalo Tom concert that he should treat Angela better was an inspiring moment. I remember mentally applauding Rayanne. She may have her problems, but she seems to be the only one on this show that has the guts to stand up to people and tell them what she really thinks.

2. Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada

She’s cold, but sometimes you need to be cold, right? “Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking,” she deadpans to an editor in a meeting. Cheers to brutal honesty! I always admire people who can realize that the world is a cruel place and sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do to get where you want to be. Not everything is made out of rainbows and puppy dogs. When I want to tell someone that they’re being a big baby and need to grow a thicker skin, I try to channel Miranda.

3. Mattie Ross from True Grit

Brave, persevering, and intelligent, Mattie Ross is a true feminist icon. She goes where a typical 14-year-old girl in the 1870s would never dare go (because she wouldn’t be allowed to). Ross isn’t afraid of getting dirty, getting hurt, or being ridiculed. She won’t let anything get in the way of taking down the man who killed her father. In fact, she possesses more true grit than any of the grown men she enlists to help her on this mission—and that is really something to look up to! Mattie Ross has all the guts I could ever ask for.

4. Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

OK, let’s be realistic. I am never going to be Lisbeth Salander. First of all, I’m not Swedish; and second of all, she is shorter than me. But other than that we’re practically the same person, it is so weird! Kidding. But really, the scene where those guys on the subway are hassling her and she just breaks a bottle and starts laughing and running towards them like a maniac … I want to be that if I’m ever in danger. Catch me in a situation where I’ve just had ENOUGH shit from people and I just might be, for a few minutes.

5. Audrey Horne from Twin Peaks

Audrey Horne is sex on legs. She’s also curious and a bit conniving, sometimes to the point where it’s risky. But that’s what’s cool about Audrey: she is dangerous but vulnerable enough to realize when her schemes have gone too far. Plus, I’m pretty sure she could seduce the entire planet. Her dance scene in the café is downright weird, and if there is one thing I admire in a person it’s their ability to get weird in public and not care. Dance like everyone is watching you and don’t mind one bit, just like Audrey!

6. Tracy Flick from Election

Tracy Flick is extremely annoying and is the opposite of me when it comes to school. She is an overachiever, fantastically peppy, and ruthlessly competitive. So why would I ever want to channel her? Because sometimes I really, REALLY want something and I want to make it mine. It might not be to win a school election—but it could be another leadership position, in a club, a job, etc. I think about Tracy every time I want to get super aggressive in my studies. Like, SUPER aggressive.

7. Elle Driver from Kill Bill

I am going to be 100% honest and say that whenever “Twisted Nerve,” Bernard Hermann’s remix of Elle’s whistling song, pops up on my iPod (yes, it’s on my iPod) as I walk down my school hallway, I feel like a freaking badass. Elle is evil, witty, and gorgeous. She’s a trained assassin with one eye who can whip up a seriously mean comeback. She just acts like she owns the universe—and I want to act like that all of the time!

8. Courtney Shane from Jawbreaker

Courtney Shane is actually a cold-blooded killer, which is not aspirational for me, but I can’t help admiring her calm attitude when things go totally haywire. She knows exactly what to do, when to do it, and how it should be handled. I try to maintain her state of mind when I’m freaking out over bad test grades or other terrible accidents in my life. Her confidence could also be interpreted as textbook narcississm, but who cares? Think “WWCD?” when you’ve gotten yourself into a sticky situation. ♦


  • Claire September 12th, 2011 7:14 PM

    Miranda Priestly is one fabulous badass, for reals. And I love Audrey…she reminds me a lot of a character who should have been on Mad Men but came about 10 years too early.

  • glitter and gold September 12th, 2011 7:21 PM

    Miranda Priestly and Rayanne Graff- undoubtedly the best two characters I have ever watched on TV. Who cares about the Pretty Little Liars girls, Selena Gomez- I wanna be the vicious magazine editor or the crazy, daring best friends… or maybe both?

  • Rita Unicornia September 12th, 2011 7:23 PM

    this helps a lot… I think so… good choice tho!
    mixing all of those characters into one gosh, I would be the biggest badass in the world haha! just perfect…
    love rookie a lot! like… I feel addicted to it xxx

    I have a blog called Rita Has A Blog, I’m a teenager with a problem… facing my spelling so I can make an international blog!

  • Ashe @ Dramatis Personae September 12th, 2011 7:34 PM

    At 28, I appreciate this list as much as I would have at 18 (or even 14). What a fabulous and fantastic list of women.

  • Sue Denim September 12th, 2011 7:41 PM

    Mattie Ross for sure. My other badass girl crushes are Anne Shirley, Hit Girl, Rory Gilmore (pre-season 4, everyone knows when it signaled the beginning of the end. And I know she’s not badass per se but she’s pretty much our generation’s Audrey Hepburn) and Hermione Granger (from the books not the films).

  • marypee22 September 12th, 2011 7:48 PM

    all incledible
    haven’t seen Election or Jawbreaker but I will!

    channeling someone… my favorite thing to do

  • Mollie September 12th, 2011 8:06 PM

    Audrey Horne is my hero.

  • Hunter September 12th, 2011 8:11 PM

    I try to channel Audrey Horne as much as possible… I’ve been rocking an fake eye beauty mark since 2008. Heh.

  • unicorn September 12th, 2011 8:27 PM

    i thought i was the only one that did that!!
    this happens every time i see a movie with any sort of strong/inspirational/totally AMAZEBALLS female character.

  • thumb biter September 12th, 2011 8:32 PM

    OH my god Mattie Ross is my idol.

  • Steph September 12th, 2011 9:13 PM

    Great list! I love audrey. But I gotta say I am bummed that you missed Nikita! Not that new crap CW tv series but the movie from 1990. Now she is a badass.

  • taylortarantino September 12th, 2011 9:48 PM

    I always try to channel Audrey Horne, She is just so….PERFECT!

  • Bean September 12th, 2011 10:26 PM

    If there were a picture of her, I would post it but book characters don’t have pictures..
    Emily Black from I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. Yeah, that’s right, I posted a book that was written by one of the rookie staff members! Stephanie is my favorite though so it had to happen. Not to mention, Emily is super tough as nails but really, secretly soft. She’s the punk rock girl that I usually fit the part of. Especially with the help of my car (which I imagine is the same as Marissa’s because it is a Pontiac). Either way, Emily is tough and confident and gets what she wants. She’s very determined. I just love that book. [=

    • Stephanie September 13th, 2011 3:35 PM

      Awww thanks dude!!!! That means the world to me! And I have to say I wrote Emily because she was the kind of girl I need to channel.

  • serena September 12th, 2011 10:30 PM

    Rayanne Graff and Audrey Horne are my heros.

  • Anna F. September 12th, 2011 10:41 PM

    Love Kill Bill but what about Gogo Yubari? She OWNS. I named the kitten I was fostering after her, and then the people who adopted it renamed it Buttercup, and this is why I cry myself to sleep at night.

    The actress who plays Gogo, Chiaki Kuriyama (total girl crush on her), is also in Battle Royale, another favourite movie of mine.

    On a similar theme, I LOVE most of the female characters in Lady Vengeance, but particularly the lead, Lee Geum-ja. She also has wicked style and rocks some amazing red eyeshadow:

    What does it say that so many of my favourite on screen ladies are violent killers? If you hate gore, please avoid all these movies. The last one is especially disturbing at times and will stay with you for weeks.

    • Hazel September 13th, 2011 7:00 AM

      Yes! Gogo is actually my favorite character in Kill Bill buuut something about Elle is just way too cool. And Battle Royale is another one of my favorite movies!

  • Anna F. September 12th, 2011 10:41 PM

    Also buffy 4ever & always.

    • Anaheed September 13th, 2011 4:35 AM

      YES. I mean.

      I used to channel Dana Scully in moments of insecurity.

  • olivia123 September 12th, 2011 10:54 PM

    I agree with all of the above! Love this. Girl power.

  • Sonja September 12th, 2011 11:13 PM

    What a great idea to have a list to channel from in times of certain need. We should all make up our own lists. Sometimes i can be too flexible/lenient/libra (not a bad thing at or times that require flexibility) but i could call on tough-as-nails patty hewes/glenn close from DAMAGES when necessary! Thank you for this list xo

  • FFAF September 13th, 2011 12:27 AM

    I mean, I’m in my thirties so whatever, but on a good day, I’m equal parts 2, 3 5 and 7.

  • Madeline September 13th, 2011 3:11 AM

    I got ridiculously excited scrolling down the comment to see someone was channeling Anne Shirley! I channel Emily Starr (of LM Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon series)

  • Zoe September 13th, 2011 4:01 AM

    Channeling pretty much any female Quentin Tarantino character makes me feel like a boss. Mélanie (she’s the Jewish girl who owns the theater) from Inglourious Basterds is my favorite.

  • Lucas September 13th, 2011 5:37 AM

    Audrey is just amazing…
    Maybe I miss Faith from Buffy the vampire slayer haha

  • May September 13th, 2011 6:49 AM

    This list just keeps getting better and better as I scroll down.
    I personally think that novel Lisbeth was better, but hey, that’s just me.
    Totally squeaked when I see Elle Driver. And Courtney. And Tracy. TRACY!!!!

  • Emma S. September 13th, 2011 7:55 AM

    Though it makes me a little bit sad that I’ll always be more Tracy Flick than Audrey Horne, what can you do? Great, great post.

  • Vetra September 13th, 2011 8:59 AM

    Miranda Priestly team ! Sometimes I really want to be like her..

  • soybrain September 13th, 2011 10:22 AM

    woho, rayanne! she is my spirit animal

  • WitchesRave September 13th, 2011 11:54 AM

    I always pretend im Lisa from Girl Interrupted (You know the one that got Angelina Jolie an Oscar..? Yup.)

    Minus all the crazy shit of course… ._.

  • Sam September 13th, 2011 12:11 PM


  • Anjelica September 13th, 2011 12:20 PM

    oh yes yes Rayanne and Mattie Ross ! Wooh!

  • Dane September 13th, 2011 12:53 PM

    I have the worst crush on Lizbeth Salander. AND I am swedish and a badass, so,y’know.

  • Rhibarb September 13th, 2011 2:09 PM

    I really want to watch jawbreaker now!

  • Fiona September 13th, 2011 2:43 PM

    When I need to be confident or get over some kind of emotional pain, I always think of the part in Kill Bill 1 where the Bride escapes from the hospital and is teaching herself how to walk again. If she still has the strength within herself to keep going after something so terrible, then I can certainly perservere over my problems that are so small by comparison.

    Also, when I hide my shyness I like to pretend I’m Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction minus the drug addiction.

  • Maca September 13th, 2011 3:11 PM

    I’d add nancy Botwin (Weeds), she’s the best at problem solving.

    And also Veronica Palmer (Better Off Ted) She’s just awesome.

  • georgia September 13th, 2011 3:25 PM

    Go Miranda Priestly!

  • Stephanie September 13th, 2011 3:36 PM

    Rayanne has always been my go-to gal to channel. I want a WWRGD t-shirt. But Anaheed, I definitely channel Scully too!! I haven’t seen True Grit yet but this post bumped it to the top of my list. Mattie sounds beyond awesome!

  • Bean September 13th, 2011 8:14 PM

    Well of course Stephanie. [=

  • amanda September 13th, 2011 9:10 PM

    What? Kill Bill but no Bride? I loooove all the other chicks listed, but damn, a BAMF was omitted. Also, I used to do exactly what the article suggests by always wearing my yellow leather Kill Bill shoes for gym and picturing myself as strong as her everytime I had to run a mile I was most definitely not physically fit for. Anytime I need extra endurance or just a general feeling of badassness, I picture myself as the Bride :) Thanks QT! And thank you Uma. *bows down*

  • Paloma September 14th, 2011 12:09 AM

    Miranda Priestly ftw! Awesome list! I always channel Scarlett O’Hara for confidence. Raised eyebrow, spine of steel, tomorrow is another day, etc. How can you go wrong?

  • Kailey September 14th, 2011 8:03 AM

    Audrey Horne is one of the best characters ever written imo! I am completely in love with her confidence, style, and the fact she pursues Dale Cooper <3__<3

    Kailey @

  • thefondest September 14th, 2011 2:27 PM

    How about Cordelia Chase, HBIC of my life?

  • super-terrific September 15th, 2011 3:31 PM

    This isn’t exactly the same, but there’s some character overlap so: I always watch this montage of female action heroes when I’m feeling weak. IT IS AWESOME.

  • momentisaflower September 16th, 2011 2:32 PM

    A teen mag that references Twin Peaks? Dear god, maybe I DO have hope for our future…

  • loony September 18th, 2011 4:35 PM

    oh I love Tracy Flick

  • kayla September 23rd, 2011 1:17 PM

    Dana Scully would be a great addition to this list. X-Files forever!