Talking about the highest paid actors and actresses in Hollywood is a bit like debating the superiority of Michael Jordan over LeBron James.
We’re talking about people who are so very much at the top of their game that us peasants here on the ground look like ants to them.
Still, it makes for interesting conversation, particularly when you’re talking about the women of Hollywood, who continue to fight tooth and nail for income equality.
Each year, Forbes releases its list of the highest paid actresses, and the names at the top usually remain relatively unchanged.
That’s not terribly surprising, as Hollywood actresses are given a narrow window of opportunity in which to ply their trade and the top earners tend to come from a very small pool of a talent.
As a result, there are no women of color and no one over the age of 50 on this year’s top ten list.
It’s a sad reminder of the inequality in the American film industry and the ways in which it disproportionately affects women.
But while things mostly remained the same as they ever were, there was one major change on this year’s list:
With $26 million in earnings over the past 12 months, Emma Stone has dethroned reigning queen Jennifer Lawrence as this year’s highest-paid actress.
Most of that sum comes from Stone’s La La Land payday.
The total was well-earned, as Stone’s starpower is widely credited with helping the unlikely smash top $400 million at the box office.
Lawrence dropped to the number three spot behind Jennifer Aniston ($25.5 million) this year, but she still pulled in an astonishing $24 million.
Both actresses have spoken out about pay inequality in Hollywood, with Stone recently revealing that she’s frequently dealt with studio heads so stubborn that they agreed to pay her what’s she’s worth only after her male co-stars agreed make concessions.
“In my career so far, I’ve needed my male co-stars to take a pay cut so that I may have parity with them,” Stone said in a recent interview.
“And that’s something they do for me because they feel it’s what’s right and fair. That’s something that’s also not discussed, necessarily: that our getting equal pay is going to require people to selflessly say, ‘That’s what’s fair.’”
The rest of the list shakes out like this:
4. Melissa McCarthy—$18 million; 5. Mila Kunis—$15.5 million; 6. Emma Watson—$14; 7. million Charlize Theron—$14 million; 8. Cate Blanchett—$12 million; 9. Julia Roberts—$12 million; 10. Amy Adams—$11.5 million
Impressively, none of the top-earning females leaned on high-profile comic book properties or existing cinematic universes to make the list.
As for the lack of diversity, we can only hope that Hollywood will remedy the situation going forward.
If the 2017 Academy Awards taught us anything, it’s that too often, real change occurs only when those who recognize injustice band together to make their voices heard.