Stars Of Film, Fashion, Sports, And Business Tackle Stigma Around Female Ambition

Gwyneth Paltrow, Anna Wintour, Melinda Gates, and more embrace ambition for The Tory Burch Foundation and share where their hopes lie.

As if getting ahead in any walk of life were not hard enough for women, the very fact that they might want to is also routinely considered a black mark against them. Ambition, so often dismissed as unattractive, brittle, and unbecoming of women is a tired trope that is ripe for challenge.


To mark International Women’s Day and the beginning of Women’s History Month, The Tory Burch Foundation has recruited a veritable galaxy of stars to launch a new campaign, #EmbraceAmbition, that aims to tackle the stigma around ambition in women.

The line-up includes outstanding, successful women (and a smattering of men) from various walks of life. Gwyneth Paltrow, Julianne Moore, and Reese Witherspoon are among those representing the entertainment industry, Billie Jean King, Laila Ali, and Gabby Douglas, represent sports, Anna Wintour is there for fashion, Sheryl Sandberg leans in for business, as does Eric Schmidt, and Melinda Gates also makes an impassioned appearance.

The film was made by Laird + Partners after Tory Burch approached the agency asking for help erasing the perception around ambition and women. Trey Laird, chief creative officer and chairman, was confident of the concept the agency came up with. “From the start we knew that there were incredibly powerful women that would be excited by this great initiative and we just needed to develop a message that would allow all of the great voices to resonate and bring attention to this important cultural issue,” he says.

Laird says the inspiration for the campaign came from Tory Burch’s personal experience of dealing with the perception of ambition in her own career in the fashion industry. He also explains that since The Tory Burch Foundation awards grants to women entrepreneurs of all vocations, that it was “only natural” to choose people to appear in the film who came from a range of backgrounds. “Every single voice plays a role in making the project whole,” he says. “Each participant resonates with their audience in bringing a broad group of followers to both the initiative of destigmatizing the word ambition, as well as drawing attention to the important mission of the Tory Burch Foundation.”


The key ingredients of making a powerful PSA are simplicity of message and purpose, Laird says. “We wanted to tell a story of inspiration and triumph, and give viewers the ability to relate to these different stories on different levels. To be able to have someone as powerful as Billie Jean King say, ‘My ambition is equality for all.’ within an earshot of hearing Anna Wintour say, ‘My ambition is to help more women run for office,’ is an incredibly unique opportunity.”

This campaign, with powerful women talking about ambition in a positive way, is intended to kick start a public conversation in the hope that it will help to drive change.

About the author

Louise Jack is a London-based journalist, writer and editor with a background in advertising and marketing. She has written for several titles including Marketing Week, Campaign and The Independent.