Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Richest self-made women in the entertainment business

May 29, 2015

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Women entertainers are self-made powerhouses.

This week, Forbes released its inaugural list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women. While you’d expect to see tech moguls and CEOs on it, a number of women with ties to the entertainment industry managed to crack the Top 50.

Oprah Winfrey (worth $3 billion) ranked number 5 on the list. The 61-year-old started the cable network OWN, and has a stake in the revenue produced by Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray and Dr. Oz, who all gained fame in spin-offs from her daytime talk-show. She’s also the only African-American woman on the Forbes 400 Richest Americans list.

Sheila Johnson may not be a recognizable household name, but she co-founded the Black Entertainment Network (BET) along with her ex-husband Robert, in 1979. She has since sold the company, and now owns shares in sports teams, and manages hotels. Her fortune is an estimated $700 million, which earns her the #22 spot on this list.

Pop queen Madonna landed in the #28 spot, with a net worth of $520 million. Her tours alone have grossed an estimated $1.2 billion, with two of her tours landing among the biggest of all time. Madonna’s personal profit from her MDNA tour in 2012 was $125 million.

Beyonce Knowles ranks No. 49. The entertainer is worth $250 million and her tour last summer (along with husband Jay-Z) grossed $100 million for just 19 performances. She also topped Forbes’ Celebrity 100 last year.

Tied for No. 49,  also with a $250 million net worth is Judy Sheindlin, better known to the world as Judge Judy. It may come as a surprise that the star of the syndicated Judge Judy is on the list, but she is actually the highest-paid woman in TV making $47 million a year.

Jessica Alba was just shy of cracking the top 50, but graces the cover of Forbes list with as one of eight women to watch. Her net worth is $200 million, but it does come not from her work on screen in films like Sin City or Fantastic Four. Alba’s wealth stems largely from her stake in the Honest Company, which she co-founded. The company, which specializes in natural, nontoxic products has increased its revenues by 1,400% in the past three years.

For story ideas, check the list to see if any local women are on it. Also, see who are the most powerful self-made women in the industries you cover. The up and coming list is always good for ideas, too.

STORY IDEAS
Forbes’ Celebrity 100

50 Richest Self-Made Women

How Jessica Alba Built a $1 Billion Company

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