50 Influential Jews: Chutzpah from the Heart - No. 34

Jewish actresses Fran Drescher and Aleeza Ben Shalom have both made waves in Hollywood with their chutzpah, whether leading the SAG-AFTRA strike or taking Netflix by storm.

 Fran Drescher and Aleeza Ben Shalom (photo credit: Courtesy, REUTERS)
Fran Drescher and Aleeza Ben Shalom
(photo credit: Courtesy, REUTERS)

Two Jewish women, Fran Drescher and Aleeza Ben Shalom, have been using a combination of chutzpah and heart to win people over, and they have had considerable success. 

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Drescher carved a permanent place in popular culture decades ago as the wisecracking, down-to-earth, nasal-voiced babysitter from Queens, who brought life to an upper-crust family in the sitcom, The Nanny. She has also been an advocate for cancer patients and crime victims. During the past few months, as president of SAG-AFTRA, an actors’ union, Drescher has used all her streetwise charm to lead the members through a difficult strike as they joined the Writers Guild protest. She’s made rousing speeches and confronted Hollywood executives with tough talk, vowing that her union will not back down, and bringing the entertainment industry to a standstill.

Aleeza Ben Shalom, the matchmaker and dating coach who hosts Netflix’s wildly popular series, Jewish Matchmaking, has taken on an equally tricky mission: Finding the perfect mates for Jewish singles. With honesty and warmth – and without judging anyone – she helps her clients “find their person,” which she acknowledges is “the hardest thing to do in the entire world.” Her patient, funny, and nurturing demeanor leads her clients to open up to her, and once she understands them, the hardest thing in the world becomes accessible. With 200 matches to her credit, she brings a welcome softness to the usually mean-spirited world of reality.