I Am Woman – a look into Helen Reddy’s life and career in music
For the first time on screen, I AM WOMAN tells the inspiring story of singer Helen Reddy, who wrote and sang the song “I Am Woman” that became the anthem for the women’s movement in the 1970s. The film is a story of fearless ambition and passion, of a woman who smashed through the patriarchal norms of her time to become the international singing superstar she always dreamed of being.
1966. Helen Reddy arrives in New York with her three-year-old daughter, a suitcase and $230 in her pocket. Helen had been told she had won a recording contract, but the record company promptly dashes her hopes by telling her it has enough female stars and suggests she has fun in New York before returning home to Australia.
Helen, without a visa, decides to stay in New York anyway and pursue a singing career, struggling to make ends meet and provide for her daughter. There she befriends legendary rock journalist Lillian Roxon, who becomes her closest confident, and inspires her to write and sing the iconic song “I Am Woman” which becomes the anthem for the second wave feminist movement and galvanises a generation of women to fight for change.
She also meets Jeff Wald, a young aspiring talent manager who becomes her agent and husband. Jeff helps her get to the top, but he also suffers from a drug addiction, which gradually turns their relationship toxic. Caught in the treadmill of fame and dependent on Jeff to manage her professional life, Helen finds the strength to take control of her own career and keep pursuing her dreams.
You need to see this film. It’s very powerful and emotional in more ways than one. Yes, it’s a film about a musician, but Helen Reddy was way more than that. She was a pioneer in the early struggle for human rights, and in particular women’s rights around the world. Her passion for everything she did shines through in this film, despite having been confronted by several obstacles along the way, mainly men. From her music executives to her husband, she was told she couldn’t make it in the music industry that was male dominated in the late 60s/early 70s.
Reddy pursued, and with the support of her best friend, music journalist Lillian Roxton, the pair make a pact to not let anything stop them on their journey to change the world, which Reddy later wrote lyrics to for this song. Reddy was more than a voice for feminism and women’s liberation. In fact, she denounced being pigeon-holed into any category, once asking that her concert introduction be “Welcome Everyone”, as opposed to the standard “Ladies and Gentlemen”. Despite this her “I Am Woman” song remains the unofficial song for International Women’s Day. Despite life’s obstacles, she did go on to great fame, collecting multiple number one singles, Grammy Awards, and other accolades. Her eventual downfall though was her husband/manager Jeff Wald, who fell into the rock n roll lifestyle of debauchery, and mishandled all their finances, eventually losing all their assets and prompting Reddy to leave the music business entirely. A true rag to riches… to happiness story, that shows how powerful this woman was, and still is today!
Now available to stream from the comfort of your home.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.