Gloria Steinem's been fortunate to call many trailblazers her friends throughout her lifelong battle for women’s rights — from New York City activist Dorothy Pitman Hughes to Cherokee Nation’s first female principal chief Wilma Mankiller and many more.
“Your birth family is crucial in nurturing and raising you,” Steinem, 86, tells PEOPLE. “But your chosen family, your friends, are really who you grow up with, and who allow you to work and be yourself and support you in times, bad and good.”
Her friendships are featured in The Glorias, a new film directed by Julie Taymor based on Steinem’s 2016 memoir My Life On The Road. The film, streaming on Prime Video and available on demand, features Oscar winner Julianne Moore who plays one of four versions of Steinem throughout her life.
“She’s absolutely amazing,” says Moore of Steinem. “I got to spend the time with her words and her books, and to watch her recordings…to listen to her being interviewed. [Now] I’m always thinking, ‘What would Gloria do?’”
The film begins with Steinem growing up in Toledo, Ohio in the 1940s with her parents, Ruth and Leo Steinem. After graduating from Smith College, she began her journalism career in New York and eventually started Ms. magazine with a small group of women, including Pitman Hughes, who became her speaking partner.
The pair famously did a photo shoot in 1971 – with their fists raised – so they could pass out information cards when they lectured across the country. The photo appeared in Esquire magazine, but it would be decades before she realized the photo became iconic.
“I didn’t realize it had more significance until it turned up in the Museum of African American History in Washington. I thank Dorothy for getting one crazy white woman into the museum,” she says with a laugh.
But she’s serious when she calls the upcoming election the most important one in her lifetime. Her goal to make sure women are treated as equals hasn’t wavered since she started speaking out.
“We just have to make sure that we not only vote,” she says, “but fight to vote.”
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