The BBC has snapped up the rights to Mrs America, an ensemble drama depicting the struggle behind the Equal Rights Amendment – and the women who not only fought for it, but also against it.
From well-known feminist icons like Gloria Steinem, to her conservative foe Phyllis Schlafly, the series follows both sides of the historic, political battle ground – with an all-star cast including Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Rose Byrne and Uzo Aduba.
Here’s everything you need to know about the cast and characters in Mrs America.
Cate Blanchett plays Phyllis Schlafly
Who is Phyllis Schlafly? Phyllis Schlafly was a controversial, conservative grass-roots organiser and lawyer who campaigned against abortion rights, feminism, and the Equal Rights Amendment. She had six children.
Where have I seen Cate Blanchett before? The Oscar-winning actress has starred in films including Elizabeth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Notes on a Scandal, Carol, The Aviator, and more recently Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, and Ocean’s 8.
Rose Byrne plays Gloria Steinem
Who is Gloria Steinem? A feminist writer and one of the faces of the American feminism movement in the 1960s and 70s, she co-created Ms. magazine.
Where have I seen Rose Byrne before? You’ll probably recognise her from the likes of Bridesmaids, Neighbours, Troy, Get Him to the Greek, the thriller series Damages, The Turning, and Insidious.
Sarah Paulson plays Alison Macray
Who is Alison Macray? A fictional conservative homemaker who supports Phyllis Sclafly’s cause.
Where have I seen Sarah Paulson? The Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress is known for her roles in shows and films such as: the anthology series American Horror Story, and American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson; the films Bird Box and Ocean’s 8; as the wife of a slaveowner in 12 Years a Slave; and in The Post. She’s previously worked alongside Mrs America co-star Cate Blanchett in the film Carol.
Ari Graynor plays Brenda Feigen
Who is Brenda Feigen? A feminist and lawyer who was pro-ERA (the Equality Rights Amendment) and who co-founded the Women’s Action Alliance alongside Gloria Steinem and Catherine Samuels. She debated Phyllis Schlafly on the issue of the ERA.
Where have I seen Ari Graynor before? The actress has starred in the likes of The Front Runner, Whip It, The Disaster Artist, and Showtime’s I’m Dying Up Here, although she’s probably best known as Caitlin Rucker on The Sopranos.
Uzo Aduba plays Shirley Chisholm
Who is Shirley Chisholm? The first black woman in Congress, Chisholm was an African-American politician who ran for president.
Where have I seen Uzo Aduba before? You’ll doubtless recognise Aduba for her work on Orange Is the New Black, in which she played convict Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren, but she’s also starred in American Pastoral and Miss Virginia, and is set to star alongside Lupita Nyong’o in HBO Max’s miniseries Americanah.
Tracey Ullman plays Betty Friedan
Who is Betty Friedan? A feminist activist and writer famous for her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique, which is credited with kick-starting second-wave feminism in the US.
Where have I seen Tracey Ullman before? The British-born actress and comedian first rose to prominence on her own comedy series, The Tracey Ullman Show, but she’s also appeared in TV shows like Girls and drama Howards End, and films like Into The Woods, The Hunger Games.
Margo Martindale plays Bella Abzug
Who is Bella Abzug? A feminist, lawyer, and US Representative who founded the National Women’s Political Caucus alongside Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, and Betty Friedan.
Where have I seen Margo Martindale before? The Emmy-winning actress is probably best known for her work on Justified (as Mags) and on The Americans (as Claudia). She’s also starred in the likes of The Hours, Million Dollar Baby, and August: Osage County.
Elizabeth Banks plays Jill Ruckelshaus
Who is Jill Ruckelshaus? Nicknamed the “Gloria Steinem of the Republican party,” she was a pro-choice Republican who served as the head of the Office of Women’s Programs during the 70s.
Where have I seen Elizabeth Banks before? The director and actress played Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games film franchise, and has directed and starred in Pitch Perfect 2 and Charlie’s Angels (2019 version), and is known for previous roles in the likes of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Wet Hot American Summer, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno.
Jeanne Tripplehorn plays Eleanor Schlafly
Who is Eleanor Schlafly? Fred Shlafly’s sister and Phyllis’ sister-in-law.
Where have I seen Jeanne Tripplehorn before? The film and television actress is known for roles in films like Basic Instinct and Sliding Doors (as Lydia), in addition to playing Dr Alex Blake on Criminal Minds, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the HBO film Grey Gardens. She also guest starred as Ouli on the comedy series New Girl.
John Slattery plays Fred Schlafly
Who is Fred Schlafly? A wealthy attorney, and husband to Phyllis Schlafly.
Where have I seen John Slattery before? You’ll probably recognise Slattery for his role as Roger Sterling in the iconic drama series Mad Men. However, Marvel fans will also recognise him for playing Howard Stark (Tony Stark’s father) in the films Iron Man 2, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers: Endgame. Other screen credits have included Spotlight, Ted 2, and Churchill.
James Marsden plays Phil Crane
Who is Phil Crane? A Republican member of the United States House of Representatives (from Illinois) from 1969 to 2005, and was an early ally of Phyllis Schlafly’s grassroots movement against the ERA.
Where have I seen James Marsden before? The actor has appeared in multiple popular films and TV shows, including Hairspray, the X-Men film franchise (as Scott Summers/ Cyclops), in Westworld (as Teddy Flood), and more recently in Netflix’s Dead to Me. Other projects he’s appeared in include Enchanted, 27 Dresses, The Box, and and Sonic the Hedgehog.
Melanie Lynskey plays Rosemary Thomson
Who is Rosemary Thomson? A real-life conservative activist and supporter of Phyllis Schlafly.
Where have I seen Melanie Lynskey before? The actress has worked on both big budget and independent films, and will likely be recognisable from her supporting roles in the likes of Ever After, Coyote Ugly, Abandon, Sweet Home Alabama, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Niecy Nash plays Flo Kennedy
Who is Flo Kennedy? A feminist and civil rights activist and lecturer, who often toured with Gloria Steinem on the lecture circuit.
Where have I seen Niecy Nash before? A comedian, presenter and actress, Nash is no stranger to playing real-life figures – she previously played civil rights activist Richie Jean Jackson in the film Selma, and as Delores Wise in the miniseries When They See Us.
Mrs America is coming soon to BBC Two – check out what else is on with our TV Guide