Forbes' Top-Paid TV Actress List Is Refreshingly Diverse

Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage.
Sofia Vergara is still the highest-paid actress on TV — and she's in good company.
Forbes has released its annual list of the highest-paid female TV stars, and this year marks Sofia Vergara's sixth time at the top. That money includes her income from Modern Family, as well as her licensing and endorsement deals from companies like Pepsi, CoverGirl, and Head & Shoulders, the magazine notes. Including those sources, as well as things like speaking engagements and movie roles, Vergara earned $41.5 million (pre-taxes) over a one-year period ending on June 1.
In second place is Kaley Cuoco, who earned $26 million during the same time period. Still, though, Cuoco earns more per episode for The Big Bang Theory than Vergara does for Modern Family. The third-highest female TV earners were Ellen Pompeo and Mindy Kaling, who each earned $13 million during that time period. Forbes notes that Pompeo's earnings are primarily from Grey's Anatomy, while Kaling's earnings include her film work and McDonald's endorsement, in addition to her earnings from The Mindy Project.
Advertisement
While Vergara and Cuoco are standards on the list, it's nice to see diversity among TV's other top-earning women. In addition to Vergara and Kaling, a number of women of color make the list. Kerry Washington clocks in at seventh place, earning $11 million in the one-year period. And Priyanka Chopra came in at eighth place, earning $10 million in the set year.
It's also worth noting, as Forbes points out, that critical recognition doesn't tend to correlate with higher earnings. Emmy Award winners Elisabeth Moss and Nicole Kidman, for instance, didn't make the top 10 list. That's also due in part to the fact that the higher-paid actresses tend to star in network programs, Forbes explains.
"With longer seasons, networks demand more time from their stars but with their more limited slates, they can pour more money into their hit shows," writes Forbes' Madeline Berg. "As a result, salaries on these series can soar up to an estimated $1 million an episode, compared to an estimated $350,000 an episode for a limited series such as Big Little Lies."
Even so, it's worth pointing out that the highest-paid TV actresses earned much more than the highest-paid film actresses for the same time frame. Emma Stone topped that list, earning $26 million in the one-year period. So at least TV definitely isn't playing second-fiddle to movies, at least not when it comes to earnings.
Advertisement