'Avengers' star Scarlett Johansson is highest-paid film actress on a list that lacks diversity

'Avengers' star Scarlett Johansson is highest-paid film actress on a list that lacks diversity (ABC News)

'Avengers' star Scarlett Johansson is highest-paid film actress on a list that lacks diversity originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

A superhero leads a list of highest-paid film actresses that was dropped by Forbes this week, with Scarlett Johansson topping the chart at $40.5 million.

The 33-year-old earned the top payday on the list of female actresses' earnings from June 2017 to June 2018, after a year that included her return as Black Widow in the record-breaking "Avengers: Infinity War" earlier this year.

The rest of the top-10 list includes familiar names like Angelina Jolie, 43, at number 2 with $28 million, and right behind her is Jennifer Aniston, 49, at $19.5 million.

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The youngest actress on the list is 28-year-old Jennifer Lawrence, who ranked fourth with $18 million after starring in both "Mother!" and "Red Sparrow." She's followed by Reese Witherspoon, 42; Mila Kunis, 35; Julia Roberts, 50; Cate Blanchett, 49; and Melissa McCarthy, 47.

Gal Gadot, 33, closes the list, book-ending it with another superhero, after her acclaimed performance in "Wonder Woman."

No racial diversity among top 10

This year's list of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood lacks much racial diversity, as noted by Forbes author Natalie Robehmed.

Two years ago, in contrast, actress Fan Bingbing was on the list with earnings of $17 million, and Deepika Padukone made it with $10 million.

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This lack of diversity on the list this year is pretty consistent with limited big-budget roles for women of color, Robehmed told ABC News. The pay gap between men and women is bad, but it's far worse for women of color.

"The numbers speak for themselves," Robehmed said.

In contrast, Robehmed said the list of high-earning TV actresses tends to be more diverse, in the past including the likes of Mindy Kaling and Kerry Washington.

"TV is definitely more inclusive," she said.

Female film stars branching out

One positive sign for women in Hollywood is that some female stars are diversifying their sources of income.

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Aniston, for example, made a big chuck of her money this year on endorsements instead of just leading roles, while Witherspoon founded her own production company to create more roles for women.

Robehmed said Witherspoon is "back on this list after she wasn't getting the kind of roles she wanted," and creating a production company to change that. Aniston is "someone who makes around half of her earnings in endorsements," including Smart Water and Aveeno, she added.

"She's parlayed her status as well-liked actress into a lot of money via endorsements," the Forces scribe said.

Fewer chances 'to earn big bucks'

Women still get far fewer speaking roles than men and so have less opportunity to make a lot of money, Robehmed writes in the Forbes article.

"Currently, female characters fill only 28.7 percent of all speaking roles in film, according to a 2016 study," she writes. "That lack of roles means that there are fewer opportunities for female stars to earn big bucks. This year, only two women broached the $20 million mark, down from three in 2017 and four in 2016."

One reason for the decline is that Lawrence isn't making those huge paydays anymore for the "Hunger Games" franchise.

Still, many male actors clear $20 million simply because there are more roles for them in the big-action franchises where they can negotiate huge salaries and back-end profits.

In this April 13, 2016, file photo, Jennifer Aniston arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Mother's Day.'  (AP)
In this April 13, 2016, file photo, Jennifer Aniston arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Mother's Day.' (AP)

Some actresses are breaking into the big action movies, like Johansson, Gadot and Brie Larson, who steps into the role of "Captain Marvel" next year.

"That first ['Captain Marvel'] movie has yet to come out, but if it is super successful," Larson will have plenty of opportunity to increase her pay, Robehmed told ABC News.

"One thing we've also seen post #MeToo and Times Up are actresses sharing info more," Robehmed said. "Transparency is so important, what they should be making and telling other women what they should be asking for."

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