Forbes Magazine is always releasing some list or another, stacking up celebrities, humanitarians, and over-all rich people in the ultimate who’s who competition for world domination. In May, they released their annual “The World’s Most Powerful Celebrities” list which hailed Jennifer Lopez as queen. Her status as “American Idol” host, Fiat spokesperson and single mom makes it hard to argue that JLo’s career didn’t experience a reincarnation in 2011-12. I bring all this old news up because today Forbes is touting another list – the “Highest Paid Actresses in Hollywood” – and I find myself quite surprised at the list topper. I guess in hindsight, it’s not that unbelievable when you consider this actress could have demanded pretty much anything she wanted for her current project but it speaks to an issue I have with the entertainment industry. No disrespect to this actress, as she is clearly making all the right decisions, I just wish this particular list could be topped by an actress who delivered a performance so mind-blowing and awe-inspiring that the money she made last year could be justified by the notion that talent = payday. Look, I know that is not how the world works. Heck, I work for the People’s Choice Awards where we honor the choices of the masses – not the critical darling that 10 people saw at the Angelika Theater in Soho. However, I sometimes fantasize about those being one and the same.
So by now you have probably figured out that number 1 on this year’s list is Kristen Stewart. It was a pretty safe bet that they weren’t going to cast a new Bella for the Breaking Dawn 2 installment, thus she was able to claim a pretty hefty salary there. That, coupled with the money she made on Snow White and the Huntsman makes her top dog. Kristen Stewart. Highest paid actress in Hollywood. Let that sit for a minute. See what I mean? Again, no disrespect, she is part of one of the most successful franchises in motion picture history and she is entitled to her share. I just wish I could justify it in my own head why this 22 year old deserves that much money. I’m probably just jealous – or envious – I can never remember which.
As I look back at the top earners from years past, the names make a little more sense to me, as I respect these women for their memorable performances and contributions to a better planet. Angelina claimed the throne in both 2011 and 2009. While the ranking was bestowed on her for her participation in hits like Salt and The Tourist, she also managed to get herself involved in a documentary passion project, In the Land of Blood and Honey, invest her time and energy as a GoodWill Ambassador for a little organization called the U.N. and help raise her 6 children with partner Brad. Sandra earned top dollar in 2010 after starring in the blockbuster hits The Blind Side and The Proposal. The Blind Side, if you remember, was the touching true story of a family who took in a young boy and gave him a chance at greatness he otherwise wouldn’t have had. She also happened to win the PCA, Golden Globe and Oscar for her troubles. So what I want to say to Kristen is this – you can make the blockbuster/kid friendly/uncontroversial movies and collect the big pay checks, but respect your position as the top female movie star by both giving back and by choosing roles that turn the world up side down with their messaging. That is my challenge to Kristen – let’s see if she earns her title.