Drawing of Bessie Coleman by Amelie Chabannes.

Drawing of Bessie Coleman by Amelie Chabannes.

UNLADYLIKE is an innovative multimedia project of short animated documentary films featuring extraordinary unsung American heroines from the early years of feminism, and the contemporary women who now follow in their footsteps.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2020, the series will present 31 x 5-minute shorts for the 31 days of Women’s History Month, distributed through a high-profile digital platform, social media feeds, educational outreach campaigns and civic engagement events across the United States. Each short will introduce an inspiring little-known woman who changed America during the Progressive Era (1890s to 1920s), a time of social and technological upheaval when women tested the waters of newfound freedoms and fought for the right to vote.

They followed their passions, defied social boundaries, and accomplished amazing feats against all odds to become our country's first scientists, explorers, entrepreneurs, artists, journalists and more -- the first woman to, for instance, earn an international pilot's license, study genetics, found a hospital, fight for the desegregation of schools, explore the Arctic, open a film studio or sing at Carnegie Hall. Presenting history in a bold new way, we will bring their incredible stories back to life through breathtaking original artwork and animation, rare historical archive, and interviews with descendants, historians, and accomplished women of today who will reflect upon the influence and achievements of these pioneers. Our series will challenge prevailing gender stereotypes, shift entrenched narratives, and mobilize audiences to join the growing national and global movement for women’s equality and empowerment.

The women of UNLADYLIKE hail from all walks of life and background. Ensuring racial, cultural, economic, and geographic diversity is one of our biggest priorities and one of the greatest strengths of this series. We will emphasize the social and racial prejudices these heroines faced, the emotional and physical roadblocks they overcame, their successes and failures, the men who supported them on their journeys, and what we can learn today from their persistence and the ways they battled oppression. 


Much progress has been made in women’s rights over the last 100 years and yet sexism remains one of the biggest barriers to women living sustainable and healthy lives. We may be preparing to put a woman on the $20 bill, but, as a nation and a planet, we still have a long way to go. The vast majority of leaders in the world remain men – out of 193 heads of state and government, only 20 today are women. Only 4% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Women earn less than men for the same jobs. Women still do the lion’s share of housework and childcare, and often face more complex decisions when it comes to balancing their professional success and personal lives.

Meanwhile, the single most important requirement for economic development and good governance in the world today is widely recognized: empowering women.

UNLADYLIKE will do precisely that. While these trailblazers lived more than a century ago, their 'unladylike' stories of overcoming unimaginable odds will inspire and model extraordinary persistence and courage for the girls and women, and boys and men, of today.


UNLADYLIKE is created, produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Charlotte Mangin. Artwork and animation is by renowned visual artist Amelie Chabannes. Award-winning filmmaker Kathy Leichter is our development and impact producer. Public media veteran Sandra Rattley is our executive producer. We are currently assembling an advisory board of women thought leaders, academics, and educators, as well as building partnerships with like-minded organizations for maximum impact on a national scale. 

Our producing partner is The Futuro Media Group, a nonprofit journalism organization that creates multimedia content for and about the new American mainstream in the service of empowering people to navigate the complexities of an increasingly diverse and connected world.