The Highest-Paid TV Actresses Of 2015 Will Definitely Surprise You

Photo: Bob D'Amico/ABC.
We're currently in a golden age of television, but that's not quite reflected in TV actresses' roles or salaries. Only one actress currently commands a payday similar to that of the cast of Friends back in the day (a reported $1 million per episode): one Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting of The Big Bang Theory. She tops this year's Forbes list of highest-paid TV actresses along with Modern Family star Sofia Vergara. Vergara doesn't command the same per-episode salary as Cuoco-Sweeting, but she has lucrative endorsement deals that helped her take home a whopping $28.5 pretax income between June 1, 2014, and June 1, 2015, when Forbes does its reporting.

It's lonely at the top, though. There's a large gap between Cuoco-Sweeting and Vergara's $28.5 million (which isn't even what they take home; they still have to pay their agents, managers, lawyers, the IRS, etc.). Next on the list is Vergara's Modern Family costar Julie Bowen, who earned a reported $12 million thanks to an endorsement deal with Bridgestone. Following Bowen is Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo with $11.5 million.

Forbes notes many disappointing factors about its findings in the article accompanying this year's list. In addition to the large gap between the two highest earners and the rest of the actresses in the top 15, Forbes points out that Vergara, Mindy Kaling, and Kerry Washington are the only minority actresses on it.

Additionally, "TV stars still experience a significant pay gap when compared to their male counterparts. The cut-off to be on this year’s list of top-paid TV actors was $9.5 million — $4.5 million more than that for TV actresses — as we continue to see actors out-earning actresses and landing the lead role more often," Forbes notes. It cites a UCLA study's findings, noting that "women are underrepresented among cable comedy and drama leads, broadcast reality leads and cable reality leads."

Also, we may be in that aforementioned golden age of television, but TV stars still aren't being compensated as well as their film counterparts. It's interesting, especially because shooting television shows can be a much bigger time commitment than filming a movie, and contracts often preclude stars from being able to take advantage of other opportunities. Over time, this pay gap may need to shift to accommodate the growing number of actors who want to do both TV and movies as they balance out in prestige.

Although, the real congratulations go to Sofia Vergara, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, and The Barenaked Ladies — who we hope worked out a great deal on their theme song royalty contract for The Big Bang Theory. May that song be in your head for the rest of the week because it's of course in ours. Sorry! (Forbes)
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