The women in entertainment on Forbes’ list of The World’s Most Powerful Women are the performers, tastemakers, executives and entrepreneurs who are making an impact. Our criteria is based on the reach of each woman’s influence and relevance, and ranked by money and media momentum. The 11 women in entertainment on our list are all at the top of their game and are committed to inspiring change. They have a combined social media imprint exceeding six billion followers and fans.
Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie, and Shakira Mebarak use their celebrity to better the lives of people around the world through philanthropy or humanitarian efforts. Bonnie Hammer, Donna Langley, Dana Walden are Hollywood power players, shaping financial and creative decisions at billion-dollar media companies. Ellen DeGeneresand Sofia Vergara are TV stars translating fame into business empires. With the release of her blockbuster album 1989,Taylor Swift became the first artist ever to have three million-selling albums in the first week.
Read on for more highlights and click the slideshow to view the full list of The Most Powerful Women in Entertainment:
A newcomer to the Power Women list, Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley(58), led the studio to its most profitable year in history ($5.5 billion) in 2014, with releases such as “Neighbors” and “Lucy.” Universal is on track to have an even bigger 2015. Spring hits ”Fifty Shades of Grey,” based on the eponymous novel phenomenon, topped $500 million in less than three weeks, and ”Furious 7,” raced past the competition to become the Universal’s highest grossing film ever (nearly $1.5 billion) and is already the fourth highest grossing film of all time. “Pitch Perfect 2″ is a massive success and upcoming releases “Ted 2,” “Minions,” and “Jurassic World” are poised to make big debuts.
Taylor Swift‘s (65) controversial decision to pull her music from streaming service Spotify (she said: “I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music.”) paid off in a big way – 1989 had the biggest first-week sales in 12 years and made Swift the only artist ever to have three consecutive albums sell a million copies their first week. Released in late October, it handily became the top-selling album of 2014. The songwriter is equally protective of her lyrics, reportedly trademarking the phrases “party like it’s 1989″ and “this sick beat.” The recent New York transplant became a spokesperson for the NY Tourism board and announced intention to donate proceeds from her song “Welcome to New York” to NYC public schools. She gave $50K to the Department of Education in February and promised to continue so long as the song sells. She won’t be spending much time in her new city this summer, in May she launched a 78-date world tour.
Sofia Vergara (57) is still the highest-earning actress on television thanks to a hefty per-episode salary for “Modern Family” and several lucrative endorsement deals. Vergara may seem like an overnight success to many American viewers (When she told “Modern Family” costar Ed O’Neill that she was set to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this spring, he jokingly replied, “What? How did you get one so fast?”), but she’s been hard at work building her business empire for years. She co-founded talent management and entertainment-marketing firm Latin World Entertainment in the 90s, and has smartly leveraged TV fame into endorsement opportunities and an abundance of licensing deals (she has her hands in everything from furniture to jewelry to fragrance). She described her marketing appeal to Vanity Fair earlier this year saying, “I’m the perfect candidate for any endorsement because they hire me and hit the English and Spanish markets at the same time.”
Dana Walden (74) is a newcomer to the Power Women list after receiving a big promotion last summer. The newly appointed Chair and CEO of Fox Television Group oversees a portfolio that includes networks and a studio, all of which generates billions in revenue for the larger media company. She celebrated the success of “Empire,” which saw unheard of episode-over-episode growth this spring, making it the No. 1 drama on broadcast TV. Walden also oversees Fox’s very lucrative television library, which includes syndication all stars “Modern Family” and “Family Guy.” One of her biggest successes was negotiating a billion-dollar deal to air “The Simpsons” on FXX, making it the most profitable show in syndication.
The Ellen DeGeneres (50) brand is blowing up. The comedian and talk show host will release a luxury clothing line this summer, ED by Ellen, which she describes as“casual and chic,” and includes a partnership with GapKids. DeGeneres also has a passion for decorating, and will publish her first book on interior design later this year.
Following her preventative mastectomy in 2014, Angelina Jolie (54) this year announced she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to reduce her high risk of developing cancer from a defective gene she carries. A vocal advocate for human rights and special envoy for the U.N. on refugee issue, in April Jolie slammed the U.N. Security Council for their inaction regarding the Syrian civil war. Jolie’s activism lends her art and philanthropy credence, making her one of Hollywood’s most powerful people.