Women in Entertainment Power 100: The Stars

8:00 AM 12/9/2015

by THR staff

11 women plus one matriarch-led clan (guess who) make up the list of the year's top onscreen and social talents.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler - H 2015
Theo Wargo/Getty Images; Taylor Hill/FilmMagic
  • Cate Blanchett

    A perennial awards player, the Australia-born actress again is part of the conversation this year for her performance in Todd Haynes' Carol, which is off to a strong start in its limited box-office debut and scored six Spirit Award nominations, more than any other film, including best female lead for Blanchett. A mother of four and one of the busiest actresses in Hollywood, Blanchett also was lauded this year for Truth and her performance as the evil stepmother in Disney's box-office hit Cinderella ($542.7 million). On her to-do list is a Lucille Ball biopic and Richard Linklater's Where'd You Go, Bernadette. And she's one of the voices in Warner Bros.' Jungle Book: Origins, due out in 2017. 

  • Ellen DeGeneres

    Daytime's dismal landscape (see: Katie Couric, Anderson Cooper) makes DeGeneres' continued success all the more impressive. Her show just celebrated its 2,000th episode and is renewed through 2017. Her production company sold an adaptation of Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham to Netflix, and she lends her voice to Pixar's June Finding Nemo sequel.

    MOST HOLLYWOOD THING ABOUT MY LIFE "Hold on, I'm getting a call from my agent."

    HOW I SAVE TIME "I am a great multitasker. As I'm answering these questions, I'm riding a mule delivering Christmas gifts to children."

    WHAT I WISH I KNEW WHEN I FIRST STARTED OUT IN HOLLYWOOD "The women at the bar of the Four Seasons aren't friendly just for fun."

    WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME "My real name is Debra."

    SUPERPOWER I WISH I HAD "Flying. L.A. traffic, am I right you guys?"

    THE HOLLYWOOD CAREER I COVET "I try not to compare myself to others. I am very happy where I am right now in my own career. But if Judge Judy ever retires, I will quit this show and put that robe on in a heartbeat."

    INDUSTRY PET PEEVE "Lassie. I'm not sure I understand the question."

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus

    In September, she nabbed the lead actress Emmy for the fourth straight year, the only performer to win for three different comedy series (Veep, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Seinfeld). She also has more nominations than any comedy actress ever, a record once held by Lucille Ball.

    MOST HOLLYWOOD THING ABOUT MY LIFE "I make my writing staff answer all of my interview questions." [Hi, Julia! Hope you like these answers! Don't forget to delete everything in the brackets.]

    HOW I SAVE TIME "I have my personal writing staff fill out surveys like this one."

    AS A WOMAN IN THIS BUSINESS, I’M STILL SURPRISED WHEN ... "People ask me questions that begin with 'as a woman,' as opposed to 'as a raging success' or 'as a f—ing brilliant individual and extraordinary talented person.'" [Hi again! This is obviously too much. You can edit to make it more concise/humble.]

  • Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner

    The collaborators and close friends are busy building a media empire that now includes their twice-weekly newsletter, Lenny, which made news when Jennifer Lawrence contributed an essay about salary disparity between her and, as Lawrence described them, "the lucky people with dicks." The duo also has zeitgeist-y Girls (averaging 4.3 million viewers an episode last season) and Dunham's entree last year onto the best-seller list with the controversial Not That Kind of Girl.

    Dunham: Girls
    Konner: "I was an intern on Cheers. Ted Danson was an angel to me, and years later I would have the privilege of working with him on a series."

    Dunham: "Saying no is allowed. It's actually a powerful statement that only leads to more yes in your life."
    Konner: "I wouldn't want to have missed any of the lessons I've learned."

    Dunham: "I'm kind of a prude."
    Konner: "My blood type. It's A positive."

    Dunham: "It's been a while since I called customer service myself."
    Konner: "I spent the day working with Zoe Kazan, Hollywood royalty and super talent."

    AS A WOMAN IN THIS BUSINESS, I'M STILL SURPRISED WHEN … Dunham: "Someone asks whether I set up my own shots, am in the edit room, etc. Uh, yes. I'm a director. That's my job."

  • Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

    The dust now settled on their three-year stint as hosts of the Golden Globes, Fey and Poehler continue to collaborate. December sees them share the screen in Universal's Sisters and reunite as co-hosts of alma mater Saturday Night Live. Behind the camera, Fey returned to showrunning with her Netflix Emmy nominee Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; Poehler serves as executive producer on the comedy breakouts Difficult People (Hulu) and Broad City (Comedy Central).

  • Angelina Jolie Pitt

    Co-starring with husband Brad Pitt in By the Sea, the marital drama she wrote and directed as her follow-up to Unbroken ($163 million worldwide), turned out to be a major bust, but the onetime wild child continues to use her celebrity status to advocate for the disadvantaged and focus attention on health issues. She’s on board for a sequel to Disney’s Maleficent, her 2014 passion project that earned $758.5 million worldwide.

  • The Kardashians & Jenners

    The most followed family in the history of social media — Kim has more than 53 million Instagram followers — every one of Kris Jenner's daughters is money in the bank (to say nothing of her ex-husband, Caitlyn). The Kardashians have kept up the ratings with Keeping Up With the Kardashians (still E!'s top show, regularly pulling nearly 2 million viewers an episode) and Caitlyn's I Am Cait.

    The family pushed further into high fashion (allying with Balmain's Olivier Rousteing and Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci) and launched the first subscription-based celebrity apps, which garnered 1 million subscriptions in their first week (Kylie's was the most downloaded free app in the U.S. for two days). "It helps that I have six kids who understand the business," says Kris, 60, who gets up every day at 4 a.m. for calls to Europe. "All that matters is that my kids are happy."

    They — referring to Kris, Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, Kendall and Kylie — may have smiles on their faces, but they also have fire under their feet and aren't afraid of hard work or the demands of fame. Kris admits that while she may come up with great ideas — like the one she had to create a reality TV show with Ryan Seacrest — they go nowhere without the right support. "They said, 'Let's do it,' and they gave 150 percent of themselves. It was the perfect storm, and from there, it set the bar," she explains.

    That bar has blown clear off as the family's influence on entertainment, fashion and pop culture remains undeniable. Try to get Kris to expand upon that, and she would rather comment again on their happiness. "We have an amazing and blessed life — that's worth everything," she says.

    MY FIRST JOB IN HOLLYWOOD "An infomercial for the Super Step with Bruce."

    MOST HOLLYWOOD THING ABOUT MY LIFE "Security, drivers and staff. We have to have it because of the nature of the business, but I like that we balance it out by living in the suburbs so we're removed from Hollywood."

    WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME "I love to clean my drawers, it relaxes me. My favorite thing is to clean and organize my house when I'm chilling."

    GO-TO LUNCH SPOT "The Beverly Hills Hotel for the McCarthy Salad."

    HOW I SAVE TIME "Multitasking 24/7."


    SUPERPOWER I WISH I HAD "I would like to fly."

    MY QUIRKIEST HABIT "Always straightening things on a table wherever I am. Even if I'm at a restaurant, I rearrange the Sweet'N Low packets. I'm a little crazy that way."

    THE HOLLYWOOD CAREER I COVET "I really admire John Carrabino. He's been a great source of inspiration and support for me for the last decade, and he's always helped me talk things through. There's no better sounding board. The other manager whom I will always admire and look up to is Irving Azoff because of his amazing work ethic and dedication to his clients. I've known him almost 40 years and he's taught me great lessons without even knowing it."

    FAVORITE TV SHOW (THAT I'M NOT INVOLVED WITH) "I love to watch The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, and I love Dancing With the Stars."

    HOLLYWOOD HAS BECOME … "Very global and diversified."

    AS A WOMAN IN THIS BUSINESS, I'M STILL SURPRISED WHEN … "Somebody doesn't take me seriously."

  • Melissa McCarthy

    Since 2011's Bridesmaids, McCarthy's comedy vehicles — which include Tammy and The Heat — have earned more than $1.03 billion globally. This summer, Paul Feig's Spy pulled in $235.7 million worldwide. Next up, she'll star as a mogul who has to rebuild her life after a prison stint in The Boss, which she co-wrote with husband and director Ben Falcone. Then, she reunites with Feig for his all-female Ghostbusters reboot, which hits theaters in July. All this as her CBS sitcom Mike & Molly, a Chuck Lorre moneymaker, preps its 100th episode.

  • Meryl Streep

    She already held the record for most Oscar nominations, but she extended her lead even further when she got her 19th — as supporting actress in 2014's Into the Woods, which grossed $213 million worldwide. Though Ricki and the Flash disappointed, grossing only $40 million, she's one of the few actresses of any age whose name helps modestly budgeted movies get made. Although she has just one scene as feminist leader Emmeline Pankhurst in Suffragette, she's been a selling point for that film, and she already has completed the indie Florence Foster Jenkins, a hot title that Paramount snapped up in Toronto. This year, she funded a screenwriting lab for women over 40 to be run by New York Women in Film and the women filmmakers collective IRIS.

  • Reese Witherspoon

    The Oscar-winning Walk the Line star has branched out with a busy producing career. Her 3-year-old Pacific Standard production company, run with Bruna Papandrea, is giving Scott Rudin a run for his money by nabbing rights to mega-best-sellers like Gone Girl (which earned $369 million worldwide) and Wild ($53 million). Pacific Standard's notable projects in the works include Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies at HBO (Witherspoon will star opposite Nicole Kidman), Kimberly McCreight's YA book The Outliers at Lionsgate and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon's nonfiction tome Ashley's War at Fox 2000. And though her 2015 comedy Hot Pursuit was a disappointment ($51 million worldwide), Witherspoon still can get a non-tentpole film moving at a studio based on her name alone.

    MY FIRST JOB IN HOLLYWOOD Starring role in Robert Mulligan's The Man in the Moon. "I felt like Scout Finch running around the backwoods of Louisiana."

    WHAT I WISH I KNEW WHEN I FIRST STARTED IN HOLLYWOOD "That it would get better and better every year."

    THE MOST HOLLYWOOD THING ABOUT MY LIFE "Paparazzi and my call sheet"

    WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME "I'm a secret writer. Feature screenplays. People are encouraging me to write more."

    GO-TO LUNCH SPOT "Fred's on top of Barney's. Anywhere in Beverly Hills, where our offices are."

    HOW I SAVE TIME "I depend on the kindness of my friends who are moms. We do a lot of carpooling."

    THE ACTOR I'D CAST TO PLAY ME IN MY BIOPIC "Elle or Dakota Fanning. They're from Georgia. Southern girls. Then, I'd like Diane Ladd to play me in the future. Laura Dern can play the contemporary me. It would be like what Todd Haynes did with Bob Dylan. Matthew McConaughey or Robert Downey Jr. could do the male version."

    I'M STILL STARSTRUCK BY "The women I grew up looking up to. Debra Winger, Holly Hunter, Diane Ladd, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman."

    SUPERPOWER I WISH I HAD "To get more female directors' movies made. A lot of my day is spent trying to figure that out. I also wish I was invisible and could spy on my children at school. It's fascinating that they have this entire life without me.

    MY QUIRKIEST HABIT "I dance around a lot and sing out loud. I also tell dirty jokes."

    THE HOLLYWOOD CAREER I COVET "Jack Nicholson for the amount of incredible directors he's gotten to work with."


    INDUSTRY PET PEEVE "Long conversations about imaginary projects. That's never going to happen. Why are we talking about it?"

    AS A WOMAN IN THIS BUSINESS, I'M STILL SURPRISED WHEN … "Women don't show up for each other. It drives me crazy. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen."