A Quick Look at the Highest Paid Actresses & Their Rise to the Top

Have you wondered how much female film stars take home?

With so many amazing and talented people in Hollywood, they’re the life of our favourite TV shows and films. None of these stars were simply handed their crazy careers, and worked incredibly hard to make it to the top. In this article, we’re uncovering the highest paid actresses in the modern day.

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The Highest Paid Actresses in Hollywood

We’re concentrating on the top highest paid actresses in this list. It’s interesting to discover that many of these earned their awards and net worth not just through acting but personal business empires too. With so much talent to give, they wok non-stop and have no intentions of stopping now. Let’s take a look at the highest paid actresses in Hollywood and a brief overview of their professional career.

1. Melissa McCarthy

Net worth = $60 million

Melissa McCarthy is one of the highest paid actresses in the world. Born on August 26, 1970, this American actress quickly became recognized for her physical comedy and natural humorous gift. After graduating from high school, she began performing as a stand-up comic in New York City. At the Actors Studio, she developed her acting skills and appeared in numerous stage productions. In the late 1990’s, McCarthy moved to Los Angeles to become a part of an improvisation group. Before securing a landing role, McCarthy had parts in films and television shows. She was cast in supporting roles, including Samantha Who?, Rita Rocks, and Private Practice.

For six years from 2010, McCarthy landed a starting role in Mike and Molly. This show quickly became popular and a recognized hit. As a result, McCarthy was nominated for numerous Emmy Awards, and in 2011, won one for her outstanding work. After her incredible work in Mike and Molly, she received a handful of film offers. For example, she played a supporting role in the comedy film, Bridesmaids. Aside from her successful acting career, McCarthy founded a fashion line, Seven7. This debuted in 2015 and refers to itself as ‘plus size’. McCarthy felt strongly that there weren’t enough fashion lines for sizes 14 and above (which is actually 70 percent of American women).

McCarthy has around $60 million which she earned through her roles in the entertainment industry. In 2015 alone, she earned an incredible $33 million and is one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood.

2. Cate Blanchett

Net worth = $85 million

Born on May 4, 1969, in Melbourne, Australia, Cate Blanchett is one of the highest paid actresses and known for her wide range of roles and diverse characters. She studied Art History at the University of Melbourne, before later graduating from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1992.

Her professional entertainment career began on stage in Australia where she performed with a Sydney Theatre Company. Her television debut began in 1993 when she landed leading roles in the Heartland and Bordertown. She moved onto feature films and quickly grew a reputation in feature films. In 1998, she earned herself an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe Award for best actress. This was purely down to capturing an emotional complexity of the queen’s development from an adolescent to a political force in one of her feature films.

In 2003, Blanchett appeared in The Missing. She played the role of a young woman forced to confront her father to reclaim her kidnapped daughter. She earned a critical acclaim her for performance in Veronica Guerin the same year.  

Blanchett later returned to depicting historical characters. In 2004, she portrayed a Hollywood star in The Aviator in 2004 and won an Academy Award for her role. She later appeared in the drama Babel. Her performance as Jude – a star making a shift from acoustic folk to electric rock – earned her another Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe Award for best supporting actress. In 2008, Blanchett and her husband became artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company. She received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in a Broadway debut in The Present.

3. Jennifer Aniston

Net worth = $200 million

Jennifer Aniston is one of the highest paid actresses and is recognised for her role as Rachel in the hit TV show, Friends. Born into a family of actors, she followed her parents’ life and trained herself in the acting industry. It took six very long years for her success to happen though. It wasn’t until her role of Rachel Green in Friends that she made her mark in the entertainment industry. Soon after the TV show (and even some during), roles began pouring in. Aniston started playing the female protagonist in many hit films, alongside world-known actors. As well as her acting career, Aniston appeared in numerous music videos and commercials.

In 1998, Aniston started her acting career by working in off-Broadway shows including For Deal Life and Dancing on Checker’s Grave. Although she greatly loved these experiences, it didn’t pay enough money for her to make a living out of acting. To financially support herself, she took up different part-time jobs, including a bike messenger, telemarketer and waitress. One year later, she moved to Los Angeles where she was cast in her first television serial. In 1993, Aniston made her film debut in Leprechaun. However, this horror film received negative reviews and didn’t improve Aniston’s standing.

But, her breakthrough came when she was cast in Friends. Later in her career, Aniston landed a star role in The Picture Perfect. This romantic comedy also featured many other well-known actors and received plenty of warm reviews for her performance. Aniston continued to land star roles in different film genres. These include: Marley and Me, The Bounty Hunter, The Switch, Just Go With it, Horrible Boss’ and more.

4. Julia Roberts

Net worth = $140 million

Julia Roberts is one of the most successful actresses in the entertainment industry. Born on October 28, 1967 in Georgia, she is one of the highest paid actresses and influential actress in the 1900’s and early 2000’s. When Roberts moved to New York City after high school to pursue an acting career, she had no acting experience.

However, before her arrival, she signed a modelling agency, but failed to land any work. Her older brother recommended her for a film role which turned up as his on-screen sister in Blood Red. This successful drama set in the late 1800s completed in 1986. After this, Roberts made several television appearances before landing a leading part in Mystic Pizza in 1988. After being cast in Steel Magnolias, her career took off. She received an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress for a portrayal of a diabetic daughter.

In 1990, she starred in Pretty Woman – a comedy about the romance between a prostitute and business tycoon. This became a huge hit and earned her a second Academy Award nomination. Roberts continued working hard to land starting roles in a variety of films. These included: Sleeping with the Enemy, The Pelican Brief, Something to Talk About, My Best Friend’s Wedding and more. Roberts showed another side of herself when she launched her own production company in 2000. Titled Shoelace Productions, this became successful. In the same year, she earned $20 million for a role in Erin Brockovich. This film portrayed a law-office clear who helped citizens win a multi-million-dollar settlement for health problems.

5. ​Mila Kunis

Net worth: $65 million

Mila Kunis is an award-winning actress recognized for her role as Jackie in the American sit-com That 70’s Show. Since then, she’s appeared in many television series, including Family Guy. When Kunis first started working in films, she remained undeterred and became noticed for her role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. This continued with her roles in Extract, The Book of Eli, Black Swan and Friends with Benefits. Aside from her acting career, Kunis is also the face of Christian Dior and ranked as one of the ‘100 most powerful celebrities around the world’.

Kunis’s acting career began as a junior, though she began appearing in more mature and challenging roles from 2000. In 2004, she starred in Tony an Tina’s Wedding, which released in theatres only three years later. She received poor reviews for her performance in this movie, alongside Moving McAllister. However, Kunis continued to work hard in the acting industry and didn’t let it phase her passion and talent.

Things started to look up for her in 2007 when she appeared in a video for a website Funny or Die alongside James Franco. This garnered over one million views from fans and pushed her into the spotlight. One year later, she was cast in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, where she played the role of a receptionist. She was cast alongside many well-known actors, including Russell Brand and Jason Segel. This film helped to project Kunis in a whole new light in Hollywood.

Kunis also received positive reviews for her role in Friends with Benefits alongside Justin Timberlake. In fact, this film nominated her for numerous awards.

6. ​Reese Witherspoon

Net worth = $150 million

Another of the highest paid actresses is Reese Witherspoon. Born on March 22, 1976, she’s appeared in an array of genres but became known for her romantic comedies which she portrayed charming yet determined characters. Witherspoon’s father lived in West Germany for several years before their move to Nashville, Tennessee. As a child, she worked as a model and appeared in many commercials. In 1991, she made her big-screen debut in The Man in the Moon. She took a break from acting and briefly attended Stanford University in 1994 for one year. Resuming back to her career, she appeared in notable films with a variety of genres.

In 1999, Witherspoon received reviews for her portrayal of Tracy Flick as a high-school student running for class president. The following year, she was cast as the girlfriend of a serial killer in American Psycho. Also in 2000, she has a memorable turn as the sister of Jennifer Aniston’s character on the hit TV show Friends. She returned to the big screen she had her major box-office break in Legally Blonde in 2001. This romantic comedy showed her playing Elle Woods – a spoiled girl who followed her ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law School. During its sequel, she appeared in mainly popular films. These include Home Alabama, and The Importance of Being Earnest.

Witherspoon continued with dramatic roles in The Good Lie. She also played a woman who hikes the Pacific Crest Trial to overcome the effects of a series of tragedies. The latter film adapted from the memoir by Cheryl Strayed. Also, her performance earned her an Academy Award nomination for best actress.

7. ​Jennifer Lawrence

Net worth = $110 million

Another of the highest paid actresses is Jennifer Lawrence. She’s one of the most recognized actresses in Hollywood and has been nominated four times for the Academy Award. Also, she took the Oscar home in the category of ‘Actress in a Leading Role’ for the movie Silver Linings Playbook.

In her early school days, she performed in plays and musicals. Her performances evolved with time and she eventually became spotted and recognized in the entertainment industry in her teens. Lawrence advanced from television to the big screen for her memorable roles as Mystique in X-Men and Hunger Games. Lawrence’s personality has made her recognized too, and she’s vocal and outright about her opinion and thoughts. As a firm feminist and philanthropist, she believes in gender equality and has assisted foundations to support these causes.

At a young age, Lawrence hardly ever played with girls and found herself not fitting in with her classmates. As a result, she developed anxiety. However, there was one place where she felt she could shine – the stage. During her early years, she loved acting so much and played in school and church to live her passion. During a vacation in New York, a photographer spotted her and came into contact with her. At only 14 years old, her mother objected a career in acting. Finally, she requested her mother to sign her on with the CESD Talent Agency.

Her parents agreed and she ended up graduating two years before the completion of high school to pursue her career. In 2006, she got her breakthrough when she appeared in a show called Company Town.

8. Angelia Jolie

Net worth = $160 million

Angelina Jolie is one of the highest paid actresses and has a net worth of $160 million. Born on 4 June, 1975, she’s an Oscar-winning actress and global celebrity. Jolie rose to fame through her role as Lara Croft. As Jolie’s career progressed, she moved into film production and continued working as an artistic director, writer and production. Her parents were actors and had a strong influence on her early life and career decision. At the age of 11, she enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and performed in several theatre productions. This early training was important her to acting career. A major part of her acting school was to participate in the duration of filming and take on characteristics of her characters.

Jolie chose to study Film Studies at New York University. Aged 16, she tried modelling and appeared in numerous music videos. Although Jolie was defined as “most of the most beautiful women” in the world, she faced difficulties with her appearance during her childhood. In 1999, Jolie starred alongside Denzel Washington in The Bone Collector. This same year, she played a woman who spend time in a psychiatric hospital in Girl Interrupted. Her performance won her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award for the best leading actress. Her acting profile continued to grow and led to a huge media interest.

Being the kind-hearted soul she is, Jolie chose to pursue her humanitarian interested and became involved in campaigns in the developing world. In 2001, she adopted a Cambodian child. Also, she was made a Good Will Ambassador for the United States. Jolie took this role so seriously that she took time out of her acting career to visit these parts of the world.

9. Emma Watson

Net worth = $80 million

Whilst scouring the Internet for the highest paid actresses, it’s no surprise that Emma Watson popped up in our search. This British actress and model became famous for her role as side-kick Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter franchise. Little did she know that this role would change her life forever. Having appeared in a few school dramas, her teachers suggested she audition for the first installment of Harry Potter. After a couple of takes and a few lines later, her life completed changed. Watson became one of the most recognized and influential actresses in Hollywood.

Watson’s professional breakthrough began in 1999 in Harry Potter. Her debut-screen performance garnered the attention of audiences and fans around the world. She appeared in the second series of this franchise and her acting skills were recognized. From 2004-2009, she enjoyed the success of the Harry Potter films. Around this time, Watson landed a role in a smaller film called The Tale of The Desperaux. Also, she continued a modelling career for Burberry and Lanc�me.

With an outstanding professional profile at such a young age, Watson has won an array of awards. For example, in 2002, she won the Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film. She won the ITV National Film Award for Best Female Performance in the Harry Potter series too. As she’s one of the highest paid actresses in the industry, in February 2010, she was named ‘Hollywood’s highest paid female star’. This is purely from earning around $19 million the previous year.

Who Are Your Favourite Actresses?

Each of these highest paid actresses have a different background and didn’t let doubt or bad energy overwhelm their talent and passion. Are you shocked by how much these highest paid actresses earn?

We’d love to hear who your favourite actresses are. Share your top names along with a fun fact about them in the comments.

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