With the high quality of talent working in television today, it comes as no surprise that those who reign supreme on the small screen can demand a hefty paycheck in return. These actresses are making the most of TV’s current golden era and – as of 2015 – they have some of the highest net worths in show business.
19. Kerry Washington – $8 million
While her episode-by-episode earnings may be less than what most women on this list bring home, Kerry Washington, who secured $80,000 for each instalment of Scandal, is still estimated to be worth a whopping $8 million. Thanks to her savvy business acumen, which includes a continued endorsement of Movado watches, Washington keeps her bank balance higher than the average actor.
18. Lena Dunham – $12 million
As the creator, writer, director and star of HBO series Girls, Lena Dunham can understandably ask for a lot of money – $150,000 per episode in fact. Estimated to be worth $12 million, the multi-talented actress also earns a substantial amount from publishing, having signed a lucrative $3.5 million book deal with Random House in 2012.
17. Mindy Kaling – $15 million
An actress whose talents extend behind the scenes, Mindy Kaling’s work on The Mindy Project – in which she produces, directs, writes and stars as Mindy Lahiri – has made her a major force in Hollywood. Her multi-faceted approach to television has her valued at $15 million and nets her a yearly income of $9 million.
16. Julie Bowen – $16 million
Her earnings may not come close to that of her Modern Family co-star Sofía Vergara’s, but Julie Bowen’s 2015 takings of $12 million have helped the actress amass a sweet $16 million fortune. Bowen – who plays Claire Dunphy on the hit sitcom – makes $190,000 per episode and was named one of the Highest Paid TV Actresses in 2015 by Forbes.
15. Pauley Perrette – $16 million
Most famous for her role as forensic scientist Abby Sciuto in NCIS, Pauley Perrette’s long tenure on the show has allowed her to build up an impressive bank balance. Playing the character since 2003, Perrette is currently worth $16 million and charges $175,000 per episode.
14. Cobie Smulders – $18 million
One of TV comedy’s biggest stars, Cobie Smulders amassed a fortune of $18 million during her nine-year stint as Robin Scherbatsky on How I Met Your Mother. Although the show ended in 2014 – putting an end to her $340,000-an-episode contract – her recurring role as Maria Hill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe ensures the paychecks keep coming in.
13. Alyson Hannigan – $18 million
Playing Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and How I Met Your Mother’s Lily has kept Alyson Hannigan’s career filled with hits and high earners. The actress made a reported $9.5 million from the final season of HIMYM, putting her net worth at an estimated $18 million.
12. Amy Poehler – $18 million
Though her leading role as Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation came to an end last year, Amy Poehler still flies high with an estimated net worth of $18 million. No doubt starring roles in films like Inside Out and Sisters helped her achieve a $10.5 million income in 2015 – a $3.5 million increase from 2014.
11. Zooey Deschanel – $18 million
While she’s known for her film work, Zooey Deschanel’s role as the spirited New Girl Jess has truly made the actress a star – and contributed to her $18 million fortune. Earning $125,000 per episode, she is also reportedly set to earn $30 million from selling her shares in women’s lifestyle website HelloGiggles.
10. Emily Deschanel – $18 million
Her younger sister Zooey may have the more recognizable face, but Emily Deschanel is the higher earner in the family. With a reported salary of $250,000 per episode of Bones – in which she plays the lead role of forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan – she earns twice as much as her sibling and is equally valued at $18 million overall.
9. Claire Danes – $20 million
A multiple-award winner for her role on Homeland, Claire Danes has also reaped considerable financial gains from playing the show’s CIA officer, Carrie Mathison. The actress makes as much as $5 million a year from the show – which she charges at $250,000 per episode – adding up to a combined wealth of $20 million.
8. Julianna Margulies – $22 million
Last year proved to be a very good one for Julianna Margulies: not only was the glamorous actress named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2015, but she also netted an astounding $10.5 million. Her leading role as Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife earns her $180,000 per episode and she’s valued at $22 million.
7. Ellen Pompeo – $30 million
A Grey’s Anatomy star since 2005, the longevity of the medical drama means that Ellen Pompeo – aka Dr Meredith Grey – now has an estimated wealth of $30 million. Though originally earning $350,000, it is rumored that Pompeo now makes as much as $400,000 per episode after reports surfaced of the pay gap between her and co-star Patrick Dempsey.
6. Patricia Heaton – $40 million
Having found fame as Debra Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond, Patricia Heaton’s star power is big enough to garner a heavy-duty salary. Estimated to be worth $40 million, Heaton charges $235,000 for every episode of her hit series The Middle, resulting in her netting a cool $7 million last year alone.
5. Tina Fey – $45 million
Tina Fey reportedly earned $500,000 per episode for her role as Liz Lemon on 30 Rock. While she’s more likely to stay behind the camera these days – writing and producing hits like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Fey still takes time away from her $45 million fortune to appear in a supporting role in her latest series.
4. Mariska Hargitay – $45 million
According to Forbes, Mariska Hargitay’s yearly earnings have fallen by $2 million since 2014, but her years of service on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit means her bank balance currently rests at $45 million. Cast as Olivia Benson in the show since 1999, Hargitay’s endurance sees her commanding a hefty $400,000 per episode.
3. Kaley Cuoco – $45 million
Earning an amazing $1 million for each episode of The Big Bang Theory, Kaley Cuoco negotiated the very lucrative salary in 2014. A sharp increase from her original fee of $350,000, the pay rise saw her yearly earnings rocket from $11 million to $28.5 million, leaving her with an estimated $45 million overall fortune.
2. Robin Wright – $65 million
Admittedly, Robin Wright doesn’t just have TV to thank for her enormous wealth: indeed, films like Moneyball and Forrest Gump and a divorce from Sean Penn are partly responsible for her $65 million fortune. But her role in House of Cards is a valuable earner and she made $5.5 million from the Netflix series in 2015 alone.
1. Sofía Vergara – $100 million
This is Sofía Vergara’s fourth consecutive year as the highest paid woman on television. Her role as the loving yet loud Gloria Pritchett in Modern Family earned her an incredible $28.5 million last year alone. In addition to the $190,000 she earned per episode, the Colombian beauty’s savings were boosted by endorsement deals with Pepsi and Kmart, and she’s currently worth an estimated $100 million.