This Year’s Forbes Highest-Paid Actress List Is The Most Diverse Yet

Thank goodness.

The numbers have been crunched and Forbes’ muchly anticipated list of highest-earning female film stars is in.

The annual list is a good reflection of the state of Hollywood, and this year’s list, the most diverse yet, suggest things might be changing for women.

There’s no change at the top though, and Jennifer Lawrence has kept her crown for the second year running. J-Law – who has her Hunger Games paycheck to thank for her hefty earnings- took home an impressive $46 million this year, only slightly less than her 2015 total of $52 million.


However, the runner-up has definitely caught people’s attention in the diversity stakes. Melissa McCarthy – once regarded by some as ‘unbankable’ due to her size – took home $33 million after a year of blockbusters, including the notable Ghostbusters reboot.

On another positive note, Forbes’ list suggests that the film industry is becoming less ageist towards women. It is widely accepted that older actresses are dismissed for parts at a much younger age than their male counterparts,  but encouragingly nearly half of the women on the list are over 40.


While the list does feature women of different sizes and ages, ethnic diversity across the board is still pretty disappointing. Although the top ten does include both Chinese and Indian women (Fan Bingbing and Deepika Padukone), the remaining women are all white. Sigh.

In case you were wondering, here’s the full list:

  1. Jennifer Lawrence, $46 million
  2. Melissa McCarthy, $33 million
  3. Scarlett Johansson, $25 million
  4. Jennifer Aniston, $21 million
  5. Fan Bingbing, $17 million
  6. Charlize Theron, $16.5 million
  7. Amy Adams, $13.5 million
  8. Julia Roberts, $12 million
  9. Mila Kunis, $11 million
  10. Deepika Padukone, $10 million

The Forbes list might give us some hope for a more diverse future in film, there is still a long way to go.  A study by the University of Southern California’s Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative found that in 2014, only 21 of the year’s 100 top performing films included women as a lead or co-lead, and only only 26.9% of all speaking characters were non-white.

So, yes, still a long way to go.