Sexy or smart? Women beat men in celeb-earnings list


Sex sells. Or maybe female pop celebrities are better than their male counterparts at signing endorsement deals and building a brand around their talent.

Either way, a glance at the just-released Forbes list of top-earning celebrities under 30 shows that when it comes to earning power in showbiz, women are far from the weaker sex.

Seven of the 10 top-earning young celebs are female. Lady Gaga (27) tops the list with a highly respectable R800 million earned in the past year, with proceeds from her hit records, her Born This Way Tour and the numerous commercial endorsements she signed.

Lady Gaga (real name Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) would have earned even more had she not injured her hip, forcing her to cancel tour dates and spend time rolling around in her 24-carat gold wheelchair.

Her earnings made even Justin Bieber (19) look puny by comparison, as the Canadian teen star earned just R580 million. DJ and producer Calvin Harris was the second-highest male with a pay cheque of R460 million, while actor Taylor Lautner was the only other male in the top 10, filling the last spot with R220 million in earnings.

All three of them are used to being surrounding by hordes of women, but rarely if ever have they found themselves in the company of such accomplished ladies as those on the Forbes list.

Taylor Swift was there thanks to her R550-million year, so were Rihanna, who earned R430 million, Katy Perry (R390 million) and Adele (R250 million).

The other women on the top 10 list were Jennifer Lawrence, with earnings of R260 million and Kristen Stewart, who brought home R220 million.

The predominance of females in the entertainment industry is not just for young ladies however. Oprah Winfrey topped the list of most powerful celebrities published by Forbes in June. The top 10 on that list was also dominated by women, including Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Madonna, Taylor Swift and Ellen DeGeneres. Steven Spielberg, Bon Jovi, Roger Federer and Bieber were the only men to make it.

But it's not just raw sex appeal that counts for the women's lofty status among top-earning celebrities, according to Kate Dries, a blogger for the snarky feminist website

"This list speaks to the incredible versatility musicians have in making money these days," she argues. "They have managed to become not just musicians but multifaceted performers."

What this means is that they have become brilliant brand ambassadors, and because women generally spend more than men ? on clothes, shoes, make-up and groceries, to name just a few categories ? female stars are more in demand than their male counterparts.

"Women like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry owe their large fortunes largely to endorsement deals and their choice to put their names on things like fragrances," says Dries. Even Bieber, she notes, "is successful largely because he's sold stuff to women".

-Andy Goldberg/Sapa

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