The Highest-Paid Actresses 2020: Sofia Vergara Tops The List

Modern Family‘s Sofia Vergara is on the top of Forbes’s new ranking of the world’s highest-paid actresses with $43 million, as the TV star led a wave of small-screen checks that exceeded those in the movie business. Hollywood veteran Angelina Jolie ($35 million) and Red Notice star Gal Gadot ($31 million) come in second and third place.

The ten highest-paid actresses made a combined $254 million in the 12 months leading up to June, down 20% from last year. All but two—Angelina Jolie and Emily Blunt (No. 6; $22.5 million)—made the most of their income from television and streaming. Those who made most of their money from traditional movies received an aggregate of $58 million this year, down from $136.5 million in 2019.

“A film produced for a global streaming service can and will likely be seen by tens of millions of people,” says Hollywood attorney Tom Ara. “In the world of theatrical releases, that type of success could potentially translate into billions of dollars of revenues garnering the talent large box office bonuses and back-end profits.”

Vergara had her biggest TV haul ever from her gig playing Gloria on ABC’s Modern Family, for which she earned $500,000 per episode, and her new job as a TV talent judge on America’s Got Talent, which pays her at least $10 million each season. She increased that income with a series of endorsements and licensing contracts.

Blunt is new on this list and she got here after negotiating big paydays for the upcoming movie Jungle Cruise and A Quiet Place 2. Meryl Streep comes back after an eight-year absence from the ranking; she got two streaming jobs, which involved an eight-figure check from Netflix for a role in Ryan Murphy’s upcoming musical, The Prom.

Hollywood is working to gender pay equity, there is still some time for that. The ten highest-paid male actors collected $545.5 million this year, which is about double that of their female actresses.

1. Sofia Vergara: $43 million

Vergara concluded her run on ABC’s Modern Family and began her tenure as a judge on America’s Got Talent. She pads those earnings with endorsement and licensing deals, including a line of jeans at Walmart and furniture at Rooms To Go.

2. Angelina Jolie: $35.5 million

One of the few actresses on the list to pocket nearly all of her money from traditional films, Jolie’s biggest paycheck comes from her starring role in The Eternals, the upcoming Marvel movie that has a $200 million budget.

3. Gal Gadot: $31.5 million

With Wonder Woman 1984 on ice, Gadot turned to Netflix, collecting $20 million for her role in Red Notice. It’s a steep price, insiders say, but a tiny part of the streamer’s $17 billion content budget.

4. Melissa McCarthy: $25 million

The comedic actress stars in two streaming films directed by husband Ben Falcone—one on HBO Max and one on Netflix—and hosts NBC’s Little Big Shots. Next year: her role as Ursula in the live-action version of The Little Mermaid.

5. Meryl Streep: $24 million

The screen legend joined director Steven Soderbergh for the comedy Let Them All Talk, which was sold to HBO Max for $33 million. Streep’s cut of the action: at least $5 million. The rest came from The Prom and last year’s Little Women.

6. Emily Blunt: $22.5 million

The first A Quiet Place grossed $341 million on a $17 million budget, and Blunt negotiated an eight-figure upfront salary on the sequel, due out next yearHer role in Jungle Cruise will earn her a check in the high seven figures.

7. Nicole Kidman: $22 million

Kidman will join Streep in Ryan Murphy’s The Prom on Netflix, which will pay her an eight-figure upfront salary. She will earn about $1 million per episode for her upcoming miniseries on HBO, The Undoing. 

8. Ellen Pompeo: $19 million

After a contract renegotiation in 2017, Pompeo is earning about $550,000 per episode for her starring role on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. She reportedly adds about $6 million a year from her share of syndication profits.

9. Elisabeth Moss: $16 million

Hulu paid her $1 million per episode to star in the dystopian The Handmaid’s Tale. She shared in the profits of Invisible Man, a surprise hit that cost just $7 million and grossed $134.3 million.

10. Viola Davis: $15.5 million

Davis makes the list for the first time thanks to seven-figure checks from her roles as Annalise Keating on How to Get Away with Murder and Ma Rainey in Netflix’s film adaption of the August Wilson play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. 

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