The 10 Highest-Paid Actresses in the World

These are the women dominating the big and small screens.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Highest-paid actresses

It’s no surprise that actors can make a lot of money. We often hear about the huge salaries that stars pull in for tentpole films or successful TV series. The downside of what many would consider a “dream job” is its unpredictability. A hit movie and big salary today doesn’t equal the same tomorrow — and definitely not decades from now.

So, what do the biggest earners have in common? They’ve managed to get that longevity, despite the typical highs and lows of studio budgets, audience tastes and the quirks of creators. Read on to see our list of the highest-paid actresses in the world, and how they secure the bag!

10. Nicole Kidman

Net worth: $250 million

While many of us changed our minds frequently about our dream career as we grew up, Nicole Kidman always knew she wanted to become an actor. Starting with forays into youth theater in Australia, she eventually dropped out of high school to pursue acting full time. Since her first film in 1983, Bush Christmas, Kidman has amassed nearly 100 acting credits in every genre.

The Oscar, Emmy, BAFTA and Golden Globe-winning actress is in high demand. Recently, she’s made bank by appearing in Marvel’s Aquaman films. She also regularly brings in $1 million per episode on TV series like Hulu’s Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers. Producing on several series adds further to her income, as well as endorsement deals for big brands like Chanel, Neutrogena and CBD brand SeraLabs.

9. Michelle Pfeiffer

Net worth: $250 million

Like many of the ladies on our list, American actress Michelle Pfeiffer has amassed an impressive amount of wealth by being a multitalented performer. While acting in both dramatic and comedic films from the 1980s onward, she added to her income by contributing vocally to the soundtracks of movies like The Fabulous Baker Boys, Hairspray and Murder on the Orient Express.

Like Kidman, Pfeiffer continues to bring in cash with current acting projects, including her own role in the Ant-Man corner of the Marvel universe. She also makes money on extensive property investments with her television writer/producer husband David E Kelley, as well as her successful perfume brand Henry Rose, named after her two children.

8. Julia Roberts

Net worth: $250 million

The popular Georgia-born actress first turned heads with hit films Steel Magnolias and Pretty Woman. She’s continued to collect acting credits and cash on big studio films as well as smaller art house projects. She’s also capitalized on the wealth of opportunity on cable and streaming, with TV shows like Amazon Prime’s Homecoming.

Roberts initially chose to become a producer with fellow star Susan Sarandon for 1998s award-winning film Stepmom, but has ramped up producing credits in recent years. Though women still only hold 25% of key behind-the-scenes roles in the top films, Roberts has joined many other stars on our list to change that. Her production company Red Om Films helps her earn even more money and control on acting projects like Starz series Gaslit and the 2022 film Ticket to Paradise with George Clooney.

7. Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Net worth: $250 million

Best known for her starring role on long-running sitcom Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus owes much of her career launch to a three-year stint on Saturday Night Live. The 11-time Emmy winner has earned most of her success and income on TV, including CBS series The New Adventures of Old Christine and HBO’s Veep. Like Roberts, Louis-Dreyfus also nabs producing credit for all her series, as well as two upcoming films.

The Marvel universe has also been good to Louis-Dreyfus and her bank account, with a role spanning The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Black Widow and upcoming film Thunderbolts. Like many of the highest-paid musicians and other successful artists, Louis-Dreyfus capitalizes on her multihyphenate skills, bringing in substantial fees for serious speaking engagements, comedic guest stints at corporate events, and print and commercial endorsements.

6. Jessica Biel

Net worth: $250 million

Actress and model Jessica Biel first became a household name due to the long-running series 7th Heaven. She moved to the big screen in a variety of genres, like drama The Illusionist, comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, and action reboots The A-Team and Total Recall.

Biel added to her wealth over the years with big brand endorsement deals with Revlon, L’Oréal and Tiffany & Co. She recently found a lucrative career resurgence by acting and producing for USA series The Sinner and Hulu’s 2022 mini-series Candy. A big boost to her net worth comes from combined projects and investments with her singer/actor husband Justin Timberlake.

5. Jennifer Aniston

Net worth: $320 million

As one of the principal members of the Friends cast, Jennifer Aniston famously went from $22,500 per episode in season one to $1 million per episode for the last two seasons. She and her castmates still receive around $20 million each year for residuals, thanks to the show’s continuing popularity and a new generation of fans streaming the episodes on Netflix.

Aniston’s extensive movie résumé includes three acting/producing roles for upcoming film projects, including Murder Mystery 2 with one of the highest-paid male actors, Adam Sandler. She’s recently been bringing in additional millions in cash on streaming, with her Apple TV+ series The Morning Show. Like the other multitaskers on this list, Aniston also adds to her net worth with product endorsements and her own new haircare line, LolaVie.

4. Victoria Principal

Net worth: $350 million

Best known for her 1980s role on primetime soap Dallas, Victoria Principal appeared in multiple TV series and TV movies for 30 years. At the height of her fame, she also made six television films with her own production company.

She collected an avid fanbase from her small screen roles, which allowed her to branch out into other ventures in the beauty, health and fitness industry. She became a best-selling author and launched a long-running skincare line, Principal Secret, that has helped fund much of her philanthropy.

3. Jennifer Lopez

Net worth: $400 million

Jennifer Lopez left college to pursue a promising career as a dancer that included theatre, performances with MC Hammer and Janet Jackson, and two seasons as a Fly Girl on popular sketch comedy show In Living Color. Despite her success, she decided to pursue acting instead, and had her breakout hit and a million-dollar payday with biopic Selena. Her experience on the film inspired her to become a singer as well, leading to pop hits such as “If You Had My Love” and “On the Floor”.

If being a triple threat of actor/singer/dancer wasn’t enough, Lopez also has substantial producing credits. This includes her TV drama series Shades of Blue and 2022 film Marry Me, for which she also composed the title song. Lopez adds to her substantial fortune by touring, lucrative endorsements and her longstanding collaboration with Designer Parfums.

2. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

Net worth: $500 million

The Olsen twins are two of the highest-paid celebrities, across all industries. They’ve been acting practically since birth, sharing their first gig as baby Michelle Tanner on the sitcom Full House. As they grew up, they starred together in several TV and film projects, and grew an enormous tween and teen fanbase. At age 18, they took formal control of their production company Dualstar.

The Olsens then added to their vast wealth with extensive merchandising related to their films. As adults, they turned their love of fashion and iconic bohemian/bourgeoisie hybrid style into another lucrative career. Covering every demographic, they’ve done clothing lines for Walmart and JCPenney, as well as created their own couture fashion brand The Row.

1. Jami Gertz

Net worth: $3 billion

While not as young as the Olsen twins, Jami Gertz also started acting at a young age. She found success on the small screen with stints on hits like ER, Ally McBeal and Entourage, as well as starring in series Still Standing and The Neighbors. She also appeared on the big screen, including iconic 80s films Less Than Zero and The Lost Boys.

While Gertz still makes money on acting, including the 2022 Amazon film I Want You Back, she’s added massively to her wealth with business ventures. Together with her husband Antony Ressler, an investor and hedge fund manager, she owns the NBA team Atlanta Hawks and a portion of the MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers.

Final thoughts

As you can see from our list of the highest-paid actresses, an important key to success is to continue setting new career goals. These ladies took endless opportunities to grow and change, to look for new challenges, and capitalize on all of their skills.

Whether you want to become an actor or not, you can learn a lot from these successful women. Building their income took hard work, patience, resilience, and the will to fearlessly try new things.

Who are your favorites on this list? Were you surprised by some of the top earners? Let us know in the comments section below!


Originally published in March 2015.