Move over movies, because when it comes to making the big bucks, everyone knows that TV is where it’s at. With streaming services offering top dollars and an array of compelling voices and stories hitting up the small screen this year, it’s never been a better time for the leading ladies of television. Well, if you’re a white woman that is.
While television seems to be doing a better job at representing more diverse stories (and there’s always work to be done), only two of the women on this high-ranking list are women of colour. Read on to see who is rolling in dough in 2021, and let’s call on Hollywood to do better in 2022, shall we?
Chrissy Metz, This Is Us
Net worth: $7 million$250,000 per episode
When we first met Kate we weren’t loving the emphasis that the creatives put on her weight-loss journey. But thankfully now that we’ve had a few seasons to explore the character, everyone has come to realize that there is so much more to Kate than her size. Here’s to more of those stories this year, please and thank you.
Hailee Steinfeld, Dickinson
Net worth: $8 millionUndisclosed salary per episode
If you haven’t caught this delightful and modern riff on the classic character of Emily Dickinson, well let’s just say you’re in for a treat. In fact Steinfeld is so great in the role that Apple TV reportedly paid her a very hefty salary to tackle it. So feel free to get caught up on the first season in time for 2021’s season two launch.
Rosamund Pike, Wheel of Time
Net worth: $9 million$350,000 per episode
After a brief production delay as a result of the pandemic, Pike is ready to show the world her hot take on Moiraine Damodred (AKA Alys) in this adaptation of Robert Jordan’s fantasy novels. Catch it on Prime Video when it drops later this year and see if the actor is as legendary in the role as the character was in the fictionalized world from which she hails.
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Net worth: $10 million$300,000 per episode It’s hard to believe that Brosnahan actually can’t do standup in real life, because she sure as heck sells it in this Golden Globe and Emmy winning series. Can you picture anyone else playing the woman we know and love as Mrs. Maisel? Of course not. In fact, Prime Video should probably considering giving this actor even more money for playing the memorable role.
Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things
Net worth: $10 million$350,000 per episode
It’s no secret that fans are obsessed with this Eleven-portrayer, especially after she also tackled the coveted role of Enola Holmes in last year’s Sherlock reimagining for Netflix. Now she’s back for the anticipated (albeit delayed) fourth season of the 1980s horror love letter, and honestly we can’t wait to see who she stares down next.
Mandy Moore, This Is Us
Net worth: $14 million$250,000 per episode
There is nothing that Moore can’t do on This Is Us. Whether she’s playing a newlywed, a new mom, a widow, or an older woman grappling with dementia, Moore tackles it all realistically and seamlessly. It’s no wonder we can’t stop watching her.
Allison Janney, Mom
Net worth: $14 million$250,000 per episode
It’s hard to tackle the comedy of a family struggling with substance abuse, but Janney has shown us all how it’s done over the years on this series. Typically she’s done so with Anna Faris by her side, but this year her onscreen daughter abruptly left the series, leaving Janney to do all of the heavy lifting. We have faith she can keep pulling it off.
Winona Ryder, Stranger Things
Net worth: $18 million$350,000 per episode
Joyce Byers could have been a tricky character under anyone else’s care, ho Ryder has a long history of playing damaged but nuanced characters with big heart. Plus it’s kind of fun to see her as a mom here—especially a mom whose son has a non-transferable ticket to the Upside Down.
Anna Kendrick, Love Life
Net worth: $20 million$325,000 per episode
The first season of this HBO Max anthology series revolving around all things love made a quiet entrance to the streaming service earlier this year, but it proved to be an immediate hit with fans. Naturally a large part of that had to do with Kendrick and her signature, self-deprecating style. Catch her—and the series—in all their glory when the second season returns sometime this year.
Cardi B, Rhythm & Flow
Net worth: $24 million$500,000 per episode
This musical competition series—the first for Netflix—brought together the likes of Chance the Rapper, T.I., and of course Cardi B. And while the performer has been exploring more scripted roles over the past few years (Hustlers, anyone?) it was her bright, real-life personality that was on full display here. A personality that is easily worth a half-a-million bucks per episode, by the way.
Christina Applegate, Dead to Me
Net worth: $25 million$325,000 per episode
There’s a reason Applegate got so many accolades and nominations for her portrayal of widow Jen Harding. And even though the second season took quite a few strange twists, Applegate sold her all the way. Sadly her journey comes to an end with the third and final season of the series, but watch for it to drop on Netflix hopefully sometime later this year.
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
Net worth: $30 million$1 million per episode You know those shots in this Margaret Atwood adaptation where the camera pans up really close to Moss’s face to capture about a million emotions going on at once? On set they call that the "Lizzie cam," because she’s one of the few actors who can continually pull off such loaded shots. Oh, and did we mention she produces this compelling (if not sometimes depressing), Toronto-shot drama too? Lizzie cams FTW.
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU
Net worth: $100 million$450,000 per episode
SVU is the longest-running primetime drama, and Hargitay has lasted longer than any of the other series regulars. So it’s only fair that she’s pulling in lots and lots of dough to keep on dishing out those Olivia Benson stories, right?
Ellen Pompeo, Grey’s Anatomy
Net worth: $80 million$550,000 per episode
Her character’s name is in the title of the show, a show that also happens to be the longest-running medical drama on-air. So of course Pompeo is worth every single cent that she’s paid to bring Meredith Grey to life. Now the real question is how much longer will she continue playing the doc now that rumours of the show potentially ending in the near future are surfacing again…
Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant
Net worth: $100 millionUndisclosed salary per episode
Did Cuoco need to work again immediately following The Big Bang Theory? Of course not—not with the big bucks she made filming the show, which is still earning her money through syndication deals. But rumour has it Cuoco, who stepped up as an actor-producer on this darkly comedic series, is earning quite a bit of coin for her newest role. And that suits her dedicated fans just fine.
Sofia Vergara, America’s Got Talent
Net worth: $180 millionEstimated $400,000 per episode
When one door closes, another opens. After wrapping her run on Modern Family Vergara landed a surprising position as the latest judge on this talent competition series. And while no one is cool with how Gabrielle Union was treated in that same chair during her oh-too-short tenure, let’s all raise a glass to this queen for continuing to prove her worth.
Reese Witherspoon, The Morning Show
Net worth: $200 million$1 million per episode
We have no idea what’s in store for Bradley Jackson when the second season of this Apple TV series returns, but we do know that producer and star Witherspoon will be pulling in the big bucks once again. Considering all of the crafty roles she’s helped realize for women the past few years, we say give this talent all the green to keep on doing what she’s been doing.
Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show
Net worth: $300 million$1 million per episode
What did it take to get Aniston back on television? A million-dollar-an-episode payday, of course. That eye-popping salary continues when the second season of this #MeToo exploring series returns, and Aniston reprises her SAG-winning role of Alex Levy. Now hands up if you can’t wait to see what happens next following that gut-wrenching, season-one ending.
Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow, Friends reunion
Net worth: $150 million, $300 million and $70 million$2 million each
It’s The One That’s Finally Happening… in 2021 that is. The anticipated Friends reunion, which will reportedly take place in March (nearly a year after the original planned date) brings back all six original cast members to dish about their time on the series. And HBO Max is also dishing—lots of money, that is. The cast is reportedly pulling in two million dollars apiece for their appearances. Not too shabby a payday to sit around and chat with your buds, huh?
Nicole Kidman, Nine Perfect Strangers
Net worth: $250 million$1 million per episode
Is it any wonder that this Oscar-winning actress continues to do television roles? Not only are the characters she’s gotten to play on shows like Big Little Lies and The Undoing meaty, but they come with a hefty payday. The actor makes a reported $1 million per episode, a cheque she continues to earn this year on the upcoming Hulu series, Nine Perfect Strangers.