Top Richest Actresses: Less Roles or Sexism?

A lot of men are complaining about the feminist moves, claiming that women already have equal rights with men all over the world. It is funny when you learn that it comes mainly from men who try to find their love on sites like, probably because they feel better married to someone who earns less than them. Well, women may have equal rights, but they don’t have equal salaries. Neither in the US or anywhere else.

You don’t need to go into some social research, as you can just take a look at Hollywood. We don’t need to talk about the number of female directors (something that seems strange in the US, while Swedish film industry is 50% male and 50% female in all professions), let’s talk about actors. We often see actresses’ names about the title. The female top billing is not sensational since the 1940s, still, there is a terrible gender gap when it comes to actors salary. You look for the top richest actors and actresses of all time, and you would be surprised. You don’t need to look through top 100s, as top 10s would be quite enough.

Net Worth

Before looking at the current situation, let’s have a brief look at those all-time tops. As we’ve said, you don’t have to go through the top 100s. Let me tell you this, all time richest actor in the world was Merv Griffin who passed, around 10 years ago. At the time of his death, his net worth was $1 billion. Merv Griffin opens many top 100 lists when it comes to actors’ net worth. Tom Hanks is placed on #10 on the list of top 100 richest actors in the world, with the net worth of $350 million.

While you would expect that there was no actress that earned $1 billion, you would be surprised that Mia Wasikowska occupies #1 many top 100 lists of the richest actress. So, is her net worth is $800 million? Maybe $650 million? Nope, Mia is the richest actress in the world, and her net worth is $275 mullion, that’s $75 million less than Tom Hanks with his #10 placing. And who is closing the top 10 of richest actresses? Angelina Jolie with $160 million, which sound quite surprising, about her career.

2017-2018 Earnings

It is enough to read some news reports on Hollywood, to understand the situation. Jessica Chastain, who, according to different sources, has a net worth of something in between $2 million to $20 million, rejects female lead role propositions if she would be paid less than a male lead. “All the Money in the World” was in the center of the scandal, with re-shooting scenes, as Kevin Spacey (due to another scandal) was replaced with Christopher Plummer.

After the re-shooting, the movie became the center of scandal once again. The for the re-shooting, Michelle Williams – who has top billing in the credits – was paid less than $1,000, while Mark Wahlberg, was paid $1 million.

Now, let’s have a look at the actors and actresses earning from the previous year. Let’s make separate top tens for male and female top earners of 2018 to see what’s what.

Top Ten 2018 Actors’ Earnings

  1. Mark Wahlberg – $68 million
  2. Dwayne Johnson – $65 million
  3. Vin Diesel – $55 million
  4. Adam Sandler – $50 million
  5. Jackie Chan – $49 million
  6. Robert Downey Jr. – $48 million
  7. Tom Cruise – $43 million
  8. Chris Hemsworth – $32 million
  9. Tom Hanks – $31 million
  10. Samuel L. Jackson – $30 million

Top Ten 2018 Actresses’ Earnings

  1. Emma Stone – $26 million
  2. Jennifer Aniston – $25 million
  3. Jennifer Lawrence – $24 million
  4. Melissa McCarthy – $18 million
  5. Mila Kunis – $15 million
  6. Emma Watson – $14 million
  7. Charlize Theron – $14 million
  8. Cate Blanchett – $13 million
  9. Julia Roberts – $12 million
  10. Amy Adams – $11 million


So, what these lists can tell us? Of course, we can say that everything depends on the number of films the actor is in, and on the genre of film. Women mainly have lead roles in dramas and horror films, which are not always box office hits.

There are not so many female leads in superhero movies that always end up with a decent box office. Also, American blockbusters also mainly have male leads. But, all in all, we see that actors and actresses salaries are as far from equality as possible.

It doesn’t end on salaries, as women comprise less than 30% of speaking roles in American movie industry. Thus, while earnings can be blamed on women having fewer roles, the fact that women have fewer roles can be solely blamed on sexism, and Hollywood is full of it.