Every year Forbes composes what’s held to be the definitive Celebrity 100 list of the world’s most powerful celebrities. The list ranks the world’s stars from movies, TV, music, sports, and books based on their money, their fame and – crucially – their influence. ‘Fame’ in this context is quantified based on how many times a given celebrity is mentioned in print, TV and radio. Forbes also consults StarCount, which tracks social media presence via websites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The overall algorithm also includes something called ‘impact,’ meaning the person’s impact on the culture as a whole. For example, Justin Bieber was ranked the highest for social networking, but because of his generally limited impact this year, he ranked only 33rd on the list (as opposed to last year’s 9th place).
The top 10 most powerful celebrities have this year attained incredible professional success in their given fields, having been catapulted to these heights through a diverse mix of factors. Not only are these stars exceptional at what they do – they’ve also found ways to profit through other means, like advertising and public appearances. For better or worse, it seems, talent is important, but marketing talent is just as crucial a factor in the quest for power.
Though not mentioned specifically on this list, what stars do with that power is equally important. Many of the following stars have used their fame and wealth to serve the common good. For example, Beyoncé – who features prominently on the list – has been involved in over 25 charities including Kids Wish Network, Oxfam, Save The Music Foundation, and Stand Up To Cancer. Only a few weeks ago she donated $125K to a foundation that helps to save the lives of premature babies. Oprah, also in the top 10, is no stranger to benevolent acts. One hopes that these celebrities – some newly endowed with great influence – will use their status for the greater good.
10. Robert Downey Jr.
Somewhat of a wildcard, Robert Downey Jr. makes the top ten. As Iron Man, Downey has been instrumental in Marvel hits like The Avengers – the third highest grossing movie of all time. His biggest accomplishment in the industry this year was his role in Iron Man 3, which was the highest grossing movie of 2013, with $1.2 billion in box office revenue. In 2010, Downey and his wife started their own production company called Team Downey. Their first project will be The Judge, a David Dobkin dramedy in which RDJ will star.
9. Katy Perry
Katy Perry’s songs are consistent chart-toppers and instant hits. Her 2013 song “Dark Horse” reached the Top 10 lists in over 15 countries and has sold 7.2 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the top singles of all time. In addition to her success as a pop star, Katy also earns plenty of money and recognition through endorsements of brands like CoverGirl, Popchips, and her own fragrance Killer Queen. She also makes bank singing at private events.
Rihanna has been topping charts for years now with recent hit singles like “We Found Love” and “Diamonds,” and teams up with some of the industry’s biggest names like Jay-Z and Eminem. Her music is not the only thing that has earned her success and fame, though. Her social media presence on Twitter and Instagram has flourished immensely in the past year, and has made her much more accessible to her many fans. In fact, she is the second most-powerful social media user on the Forbes list, falling only slightly under Justin Bieber.
7. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Boxing star Floyd Mayweather joins Tiger Woods as one of the only athletes to earn $100 million in Forbes’ yearly listings of the highest paid athletes. He is undefeated as a professional and is a five-division world champion, having won an impressive 10 world titles. In fact, Mayweather topped the Forbes and Sports Illustrated lists of the 50 highest-paid athletes of 2012 and 2013; as of 2014 he is the highest paid athlete in the world. His 2013 fight against Canelo Alvarez grossed $150 million on PPV, $20 million from the live gate, and overall produced a revenue of roughly $200 million – no small fortune! Mayweather’s May fight against Marcos Maidana guaranteed him $32 million.
Jay-Z is consistently regarded as one of the best rappers of all time. This year, Jay-Z’s celebrity status continues to soar. His latest album was certified platinum – before it was released! His entertainment company, Roc Nation, has become a fully fledged empire and continues to earn him a vast amount of revenue and power in the industry. Jay-Z has won a total of 17 Grammy Awards for his musical work, as well as numerous more nominations. He has embarked on several other lucrative business ventures, including his endorsement of Cognac D’ussé and his ownership of ‘40/40 Clubs’, a chain of sports bars and lounges the mogul owns along with a few partners. He and Beyonce make quite the power couple.
5. Ellen DeGeneres
Ellen is one of TV’s biggest and best liked personalities. This year, the ‘selfie’ she took with a slew of A-listers while hosting the Oscars famously became the most re-tweeted Twitter post in history. Perhaps as a consequence, the live episode of her show Ellen that aired the day after the Oscars was the most watched in the program’s 11 years on air. Ellen also landed a gig as a CoverGirl, and, of course, has gained the majority of her success from her television talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
4. Oprah Winfrey
Not surprisingly, Oprah makes the top 5. Winfrey has spent the first half of 2014 on red carpets all over the globe since receiving a slew of nominations for her role in the historical drama “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” (which grossed about $167 million). Oprah also has her own television network, OWN, which made more money in 2013 than ever before. A considerable chunk of both her net worth and her influence comes from her long-running talk show – off the air but still in syndication – and from the other talk shows she helped to create such as Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray, and Dr. Oz., not to mention her own radio show and magazine.
3. Dr. Dre
Dr. Dre is one of the music industry’s most successful record producers, having overseen the careers of some of the world’s most influential rappers including Eminem, Snoop Lion, and Kendrick Lamar. He is also the founder and current CEO of Aftermath Entertainment. Dr. Dre made waves this year when he sold his headphone company, Beats, to Apple for $3 billion – as a result, the producer’s income increased by a casual $620 million. Impressively, this is the highest yearly earning of any entertainer ever evaluated by Forbes.
2. LeBron James
James boasts an embarrassment of riches: he has two NBA championships, four NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, two NBA Finals MVP Awards, two Olympic Gold Medals, an NBA scoring title, and the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. No big deal. He’s also the Cleveland Cavaliers’ all time leading scorer. While he played for the Miami Heat from 2010-2014, he recently rejoined the Cavs, a decision that has been widely hailed as his ‘homecoming.’
Aside from his enormous athletic success, LeBron also happens to be the NBA’s biggest endorsement star: he has deals with Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Upper Deck (a sports card company). His jersey was the NBA’s best seller in 2014. He also owns a piece of Beats by Dr. Dre, and thus gained some of the profit when the company was sold to Apple.
In 2013-2014 thus far, Beyoncé has played a whopping 95 shows, earning around $2.5 million per city. Her new single, “Drunk in Love,” has already sold more than 1 million copies, and her new album “Beyoncé” gained enormous success with almost no publicity leading up to its release. Indeed, it was recently announced that B will lead the pack at the MTV Video Music Awards with eight nominations, including Video of the Year for “Drunk in Love.” She’s currently touring with her husband and fellow Most Powerful celeb, Jay-Z, in the “On the Run” summer tour.