Forbes released its list of the most powerful women in the the world for 2015 during the final week of May of this year. As has been the case in the past, the top spots are occupied by women who are political giants in the world. One has held her seat for a decade, while another could, depending on all that happens in the United States over the next year and a half, become the “leader of the free world.” No disrespect meant to any woman who works in and who has made a fortune in the entertainment industry, but she would have to go far and beyond that field to be able to compete with the likes of Hillary Clinton in the Forbes list.
Of the Forbes’ top ten most powerful women in entertainment, the majority are known to those who follow the music, television and movie industries. Those women are recognized in just about any public setting imaginable, and they have done well to generate and expand their own brands. While all ten of the women showcased in this piece are worthy of admiration for all that they have achieved in their fields, one continues to stand far and away atop the group. She is an icon above all others in this list, a different kind of role model for anybody who wants to make something out of herself/himself.
10. in entertainment/81 overall: Shakira Mebarak
The list begins with the first women in this piece who is known simply by one name – Shakira. Odds are that, unless you have been living outside of civilization for most of the past two decades, you are familiar with at least one of her tunes. What you may not know is that the global icon of music and entertainment has been an activist since the 1990s, when she founded an organization created to provide education to underprivileged in her native Colombia. Shakira, the top-selling artist of all time in the country of Colombia according to Forbes, has also served as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2003.
9. in entertainment/74 overall: Dana Walden
It was back in the summer of 2014 when C-Suite Quarterly referred to the rise of Dana Walden as a “middle-class to riches” story. Walden was promoted to Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of FOX Television Group and Twenty-First Century FOX around that same time, and landing that gig made Walden a newcomer to Forbes’ list of the most powerful women in the world and in entertainment. FOX scored a massive television hit in 2015 with the drama Empire, but it is the FOX Television Group portfolio, in general, that is a major cash cow. That portfolio, according to Forbes, generates “billions in revenue.”
8. in entertainment/64 overall: Taylor Swift
One should not only get used to seeing Taylor Swift appearing on such lists. Be ready for her rise to continue throughout the next several years. The singer-songwriter has been responsible for hit after hit over the years, first as a country music hit-maker and then as a pop superstar, but Swift went one step further with her 1989 album that was released in 2014. In this world of streaming music and of listening to tunes via websites such as YouTube, Swift made it cool for consumers to buy a physical CD. That may, to date, be the most impressive feat of Swift’s career.
7. in entertainment/58 overall: Donna Langley
It was back in 2013 when Donna Langley was promoted to sole-chairwoman of Universal Pictures. Her place in Forbes’ updated list shows that the company made the right decision by going all-in on Langley. Universal had a banner year in 2014, with Forbes reporting that the company made a record profit of $5.5 billion. This year should be even better. Fifty Shades of Grey was as big if not bigger of a money-maker than was thought, and Furious 7 will be one of the top-four (at least) highest-grossing films in history. Pitch Perfect 2, Ted, and Jurassic World are all also expected to be massive movie hits for the studio.
6. in entertainment/57 overall: Sofia Vergara
Actress Sofia Vergara is cashing in on the fame she has earned as a television star to build an empire that is all her own. Vergara makes, according to Forbes, $325,000 per Modern Family episode, and she has also been featured in national television and print advertisements. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in May of 2015, right around the same time that she was in the headlines for one of the more bizarre entertainment stories you’ll see this year. Vergara’s ex is looking to sue her for custody of frozen embryos that the two created when they were together.
5. in entertainment/54 overall: Angelina Jolie
Nobody can ever criticize Angelina Jolie for “faking it” as an entertainment icon who also serves as an activist. Jolie, who can seemingly command whatever on-screen fee she desires and who also has worked as a director, has a history of speaking her mind regarding a variety of issues. The actress hit out at the United Nations in April 2015, calling on the world to help Syrian refugees and saying the following: “We cannot look at Syria, and the evil that has arisen from the ashes of indecision, and think this is not the lowest point in the world’s inability to protect and defend the innocent.”
4. in entertainment/52 overall: Bonnie Hammer
Forbes refers to Bonnie Hammer as “the most powerful woman in television.” She will continue to earn that honor for as long as she holds her current post. The NBCUniversal Chairwoman overseas some of the biggest brands in all of cable television. This includes the likes of USA Network, Bravo, E!, Oxygen and Syfy. NBCUniversal and World Wrestling Entertainment put pen to paper on a new media rights deal in May of 2014, and the company renewed with the Kardashian family in February of 2015. Say whatever you will about those two entities: They have helped make NBC a cable television giant.
3. in entertainment/50 overall: Ellen DeGeneres
It was not all good news for Ellen DeGeneres over the past 12 months. The NBC television program One Big Happy, which fell under the umbrella of DeGeneres’ Very Good Productions, was unable to survive its run of six episodes before being canceled. That said, DeGeneres remains a hit of daytime television and arguably one of the best awards-show hosts in all of entertainment. She has also branched out to other avenues, creating a lifestyle collection for home-shopping network QVC and forging a partnership with GapKids. Her new book that deals with interior design, entitled Home, is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2015.
2. in entertainment/21 overall: Beyonce Knowles
As it pertains to a list of female performers, there is Beyonce Knowles, a significant gap, and then everybody else who falls behind her. Beyonce can steal any awards show merely by performing a single song, and she can – to steal a phrase – “break the Internet” by releasing an online album out of nowhere. A superstar who continues to set the bar in the entertainment industry, Beyonce is able to make news by merely stepping out into public. She has, according to Forbes, made over $500 million in gross earning during her solo career. That number will likely skyrocket over the next decade.
1. in entertainment/12 overall: Oprah Winfrey
Beyonce may affectionately be known as “Queen Bey” by her legions of fans, but even she is well behind the female deemed by Forbes to be the most powerful woman in all of entertainment. Oprah Winfrey has evolved her brand into a global powerhouse, and that she no longer serves as a talk show host has not kept her from making millions of dollars off of other projects on a yearly basis. Winfrey is a true revolutionary in the entertainment business, a self-made success story who had, according to Forbes, a net worth of about $3 billion as of May 28, 2015.