Power is a trait that is famously celebrated when it comes to male characters while less honored when it comes to female ones. Although, Hollywood has come a long way in 2019, boasting a record number of female protagonists. Each time I have to prepare for an audition, I always find myself looking for that one monologue that combines intensity and feminine strength but it’s a challenge finding characters that are portrayed in a dynamic way.
Keeping in mind that you should always pay attention to your type, therefore, choose characters that are in line with the attributes that make you stand out, here is an overview of Female Monologues that are intense and will help you step into your power.
Blood Diamond – Maddie Bowen
Maddie Bowen is an investigative journalist risking her life to find the truth. This is the first monologue I picked when I began acting class in Italy, I used my older brother, Paul Radu, as an inspiration for this role since he is an incredibly skilled, award-winning investigative journalist. I took a risk by choosing this intense monologue but it paid off because it allowed me to explore the depth of empathy and determination to reach the objective Maddie Bowen had. Nothing is more rewarding than fully connecting to a powerful mission driven by humanity.
Do you think I’m exploiting his grief? You’re right, it’s shit. It’s like one of those infomercials. You know, little black babies with swollen bellies with flies in their eyes. It’s right here. I’ve got dead mothers. I’ve got severed limbs, but it’s nothing new. And it might be enough to make some people cry if they read it. Maybe even write a check. But it’s not going to be enough to make it stop. I am sick of writing about victims but it’s all I can fucking do because I need facts. I need names. I need dates. I need pictures. I need bank accounts. People back home wouldn’t buy a ring if they knew it cost someone else their hand. I can’t write that story until I get facts that can be verified. Which is to say until I find someone who will go on record. So if that is not you and you’re not really going to help and we’re not really going to screw, then why don’t you get the f*** out of my face and let me do my work?Maddie Bowen, Blood Diamond
Marquise de Merteuille – Dangerous Liasons
This monologue connects to that raw, collective consciousness we all share as women, the part inside that feels the depth of pain of years and years of abuse and limitation we have all suffered and the need for liberation. It’s the perfect monologue to bring out your inner Femme Fatale and exorcise those feelings of being repressed by society as a Woman.
Over tea with Vicomte Sebastien de Valmont, the devilishly wicked Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil gave a “virtuoso of deceit” speech about her ability to maintain a deceptive facade about herself, when asked the question: “I often wonder how you manage to invent yourself”: Well, I had no choice, did I? I’m a woman. Women are obliged to be far more skillful than men. You can ruin our reputation and our life with a few well-chosen words. So, of course, I had to invent not only myself, but ways of escape no one has ever thought of before. And I’ve succeeded because I’ve known I was always born to dominate your sex and avenge my own… When I came out into society, I was 15. I already knew that the role I was condemned to, namely to keep quiet and do what I was told, gave me the perfect opportunity to listen and observe. Not to what people told me, which naturally was of no interest, but to whatever it was they were trying to hide. I practiced detachment. I learned how to look cheerful while under the table I stuck a fork into the back of my hand. I became a virtuoso of deceit. It wasn’t pleasure I was after, it was knowledge. I consulted the strictest moralists to learn how to appear, philosophers to find out what to think, and novelists to see what I could get away with. And in the end, I distilled everything to one wonderfully simple principle: win or die.. .If I want a man, I have him. If he wants to tell, he finds that he can’t. That’s the whole story.
Marquise de Merteuille
Katherine Murphy – The Accused
Kelly McGillis delivers a powerful monologue as lawyer Katherine Murphy, giving a voice to victims of sexual assault and fighting for justice in the 1988 movie The Accused. This monologue centers on challenging victim blaming and how bystanders need to take responsibility for their choices during an assault. I love it because it touches on a subject that is sadly still relevant, it’s so important to give voice to those who suffered immensely painful trauma and to support justice especially in an age in which group assaults, cyberbullying and mobbing are leading to more and more suicides. As Actors, we get to use our voice to impact people which is why, despite being immensely painful, this monologue is among my favorites.
Ladies and Gentleman, Mr. Paulson has told you the testimony of Sarah Tobias is nothing. Sarah Tobias was raped but that is nothing. She was cut, bruised, and terrorized but that is nothing. All of it happened in front of a howling crowd and that is nothing. Well, it may be nothing to Mr. Paulson, but it is not nothing to Sarah Tobias and I don’t believe it’s nothing to you. Next, Mr. Paulson tried to convince you that Kenneth Joyce was the only one in that room who knew that Sarah Tobias was being raped. The only one. Now you watched Kenneth Joyce, how did he strike you? Did he seem specially sensitive? Did he seem so remarkable that you said to yourselves, “Of course. This man would notice things other people wouldn’t.” Do you believe that Kenneth Joyce saw something in that room that those three men didn’t see. In all the time that Sarah was pinned down on that Pinball machine that other people didn’t know? Kenneth Joyce confessed to you that he watched a rape and did nothing. He told you that everyone in that bar behaved badly and he was right. But no matter how immoral it may be, it is not the crime of criminal solicitation to walk away from a rape. It is not the crime of criminal solicitation to watch a rape. But it is the crime of criminal solicitation to induce, or entreat, or encourage, or persuade another person to commit a rape. “Hold her down, stick it to her, make her moan.” These three men did worse than nothing. They cheered and they clapped and they rooted the others on. They made sure that Sarah Tobias was raped, and raped, and raped, and raped. And tell me, was that nothing?
Katherine Murphy – The Accused
Erin Brokovich – Lame-Ass Offer
Julia Roberts won an Oscar for her intense portrayal of Erin Brokovich. In this monologue, Erin gives the opposing councils a piece of her mind by tapping into her feminine fierceness and heart of gold.
Oh, see, now that pisses me off. First of all since the demur, we now have more than four hundred plaintiffs and let’s be honest, we all know there’s more out there. Now, they may not be the most sophisticated people, but they do know how to divide, and twenty million dollars isn’t shit when it’s split between them. And second of all, these people don’t dream about being rich. They dream about being able to watch their kids swim in a pool without worrying they’ll have to have a hysterectomy at age 20, like Rosa Diaz, a client of ours, or have their spine deteriorate like Stan Bloom, another client of ours. So before you come back here with another lame-ass offer, I want you to think real hard about what your spine is worth, Mr. Buda, or what you’d expect someone to pay you for your uterus, Ms. Sanchez, then you take out your calculator and multiply that number by a hundred. Anything less than that is a waste of our time.
Miranda Priestly – The Devil Wears Prada
Meryl Streep’s iconic portrayal of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada raises awareness about the perceived deficits of Women in leadership positions. Meryl made sure this monologue was included in the movie because she felt it would give people the chance to understand the dynamics of what leads a boss to cut out emotion and become hyperfocused as she experiences the severe pressure of the responsibility of her role as editor of a global fashion magazine empire. She choose to delve into the character with empathy and I think this brilliant choice resulted in a relatable Miranda.
This “stuff’? Oh, ok. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don’t know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean. You’re also blindly unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic “casual corner” where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of “stuff.”
Miranda Priestly, The Devil Wears Prada
Kill Bill Vol. 1 – O-Ren Ishii
Elite Assasin O-Ren Ishii isn’t exactly shy to stand up for herself when a man challenges her status. Lucy Liu always has a kind of mystic vibe about her that gives any character she plays a lot of depth and mystery.
As your leader, I encourage you to from time to time and always in a respectful manner, to question my logic. If you’re unconvinced a particular plan of action I’ve decided is the wisest, tell me so. But allow me to convince you. And I promise you, right here and now, no subject will be taboo, except of course the subject that was just under discussion. The price you pay for bringing up either my Chinese or my American heritage as a negative is, I collect your f ****** head. Just like this f***** here. Now if any of you sons of b***** got anything else to say, now’s the f****** time! I didn’t think so. Gentlemen, this meeting is adjourned.
O-Ren Ishii, Kill Bill: Vol. 1
Miss Congeniality – Brief Shining Moment
A brief shining moment and then that big mouth.
Well, I would say that I used to be one of them. And then I came here and I realized that, these women are smart, terrific people who are just trying to make a difference in the world. And we’ve become really good friends. I mean, I know that we secretly wish the other one to trip and fall on her face, but oh, wait a minute, I’ve already done that! [everyone laughs and applause] And for me, this experience has been one of the most, rewarding and liberating experiences of my life.
And if anyone, anyone, tries to hurt one of my new friends, I would take them out. I would make them suffer so much, that they’d wish they were never born. And if they ran, I would hunt them down. Thank you Kathy. [Stan claps, but everyone mutters amongst themselves]
Gracie Heart, Miss Congeniality
Wonder Woman- I Believe in Love
Despite all the imperfections, Wonder Woman chooses to believe in mankind’s unlimited potential to Love. A message of Hope and a powerful reminder we each get to affect the world with the choices we make. Live to inspire!
I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves – something no hero will ever defeat. I’ve touched the darkness that lives in between the light. Seen the worst of this world, and the best. Seen the terrible things men do to each other in the name of hatred, and the lengths they’ll go to for love. Now I know. Only love can save this world. So I stay. I fight, and I give… for the world I know can be. This is my mission, now. Forever.
Pro Tip: Always, always, always keep in mind the tone of the show/project you are auditioning for as well as your brand when choosing the monologue that will best sell you inside the audition room! Determining and successfully marketing your brand and type will maximize your chances as well as your focus. For guidance on this, check out the amazing Bonnie Gillespie.
While only a few of these may be right for your type therefore useable in auditions, consider the fact that even if a role is out of your range and casting type, it may nevertheless be highly beneficial to practice it from a cathartic point of view as well as an exercise to go beyond your current range. This allows you to enrich your inner life and be a better performer. So, if any of these monologues resonate with you on some level, then dive deep and explore what emerges as most likely there is a part of your subconscious that needs to be expressed.
If you feel like sharing your favorite female monologue and why it resonates with you, feel free to send me an email or leave a comment.
Always keep shining,