Anya Wassenberg
July 01, 2013

Six of Forbes’ Top 10 Most Powerful Celebrities Are Women

Oprah Winfrey Forbes' Most Powerful Celebrity 2013

Oprah Winfrey tops Forbes’ list of World’s Most Powerful Celebrities / Photo credit: Featureflash / Shutterstock

Forbes Magazine recently released their annual listing of the World’s Most Powerful Celebrities.

Everyone’s favorite TV mogul, Oprah Winfrey, is back — and this year, six of the top 10 are women. They include the one-two punch of Oprah at #1 and Lady Gaga at #2, Beyoncé/Mrs. Carter at #4, followed in succession by Madonna and Taylor Swift. Ellen DeGeneres comes in at the #10 spot.

What does it mean to be a “powerful celebrity” anyway?

According to Forbes, the list is compiled using an algorithm that “accounts for celebrity power.” Despite attempts to make the criteria sound quasi-scientific, it’s basically about earnings in the entertainment biz along with media visibility, the latter involving a complicated and somewhat absurd assessment of magazine covers (too many reality TV stars are diluting their importance, apparently), broadcast and social media. The ranking includes actors, TV personalities, models, athletes, authors, musicians and comedians and looks at the period from June 1, 2012 to June 1, 2013.

However arcane the methodology may be, the fact that the top 10 is top heavy in female artists does say that women have made inroads in the entertainment business. That two of them are African-American women – who actually represent the only people of color in the top 10 – is also a notable fact.

Ellen Degeneres Forbes Most Powerful Celebrities

Ellen DeGeneres – Photo Credit: Featureflash / Shutterstock

On the other hand, let’s see the entertainment world for what it is, and what they actually mean when they talk about “power.”

The success of women in the entertainment industry is a cause for celebration, and their prominence represents a step forward from decades past. But it also begs the question – if women are so “powerful” in the entertainment business, why is there still such an obvious dearth of good acting roles for women, particularly for women over 35? The fact that female actors are very few and far between (especially as compared to their male counterparts) on the entire top 100 list speaks volumes.

The solution to that lies right at the top of the list. We need more Oprahs, the woman savvy enough to create her own production company and syndicate her show, back when it first became the top-rated talk show in Chicago. As a producer and creator of programming, she’s influenced what millions of people have seen on TV.

Ownership of the industry – that’s what it will take for more women to have real power in this or any other field. You certainly don’t have to go far to find list upon list and even entire industries where women haven’t made any gains at all.

Still, the World’s Most Powerful Celebrities list does have its interesting points of comparison. While Beyoncé ranks at #4, Mr. Knowles-Carter,  aka Jay-Z, doesn’t show up on the list until #32. Sometimes, things do change.