You probably know Connie Britton from her starring television roles on Nashville and Friday Night Lights. And Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior Senator from New York, made national news when she pushed to repeal the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law. But what you may not know is that this unlikely pair were roommates at Dartmouth College while on a semester abroad in China. They’ve remained friends ever since, each fighting for women’s rights from totally different platforms.
Britton has pushed for richer, more realistic female characters in film and TV so women can see themselves reflected on screen. “The message is that what you are is enough. And actually what you are is essential to your family, to your community, to the world around you,” says Britton. Meanwhile, Gillibrand has become a powerful mentor and fundraiser for other women in the Senate campaigning to get more women in office. “Our life experiences are so different from our male colleagues—the things we live, the things we see, the things we think are most important,” says Gillibrand “If you asked if the top things you care most about are on Washington’s agenda, none of those votes are scheduled. They’re probably never going to be scheduled because they’re not the priorities of the overwhelmingly male leadership that this country has.”
The two reunited at Dartmouth on a gorgeous fall day in the middle of an acrimonious presidential campaign to talk politics and to share stories about two intrepid young women riding bikes around China without any idea that years later they’d both have a profound affect on the lives of a new generation of young women.