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How to Top the Highest Paid TV Actresses List: Don't Be an Actress

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Jul 18, 2012 | 8:55am EDT

Sofia VergaraIt's tough to make it big as an actress, be it in film or on television. Getting discovered is difficult enough, but actually sustaining a financially stable career in the highly volatile business is a hell of a struggle. But here is a little tip for all of you young women yearning to make it big on the small screen: don't be an actress. Now, that might sound like a suggestion to abandon your hopes and dreams, but it's quite the contrary. One of the key factors that goes into becoming among the highest paid actresses in television is actually not being an actress. Stop assuming I'm just drunk and keep reading!

Forbes has released its list of Highest Paid TV Actresses of 2012. Topping the list is Sofia Vergara, a particularly unsurprising and acceptable victor. Vergara's performance on the critically acclaimed and publicly beloved Modern Family has earned her due ownership of the title. Accusations have been made that she's really just playing herself in the portrayal of Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, but as similar as her onscreen and offscreen personas may be, she deserves the credit of actually memorizing lines, feigning reactions, and pretending that she's not actually Sofia Vergara. You know, acting. This is not something that can be said for the three out of the four women to complete the Top 5 of Forbes' list.

Number two is a frequent flyer in groups of things that have a lot of money: Kim Kardashian. But while Kim might be a rightful beneficiary to labels like Highest Paid Reality Show Star, Highest Paid Store Owner, and Highest Paid Victim of a Flour Assault, she is most certainly not an applicable candidate for Richest TV Actress. As much as a misnomer "reality television" is, and as much as Kardashian might up the ante on performative emoting, it's still not acting.

The same can be applied to occupants of slots four and five: Bethenny Frankel and Khloe Kardashian Odom, respectively. Reality show stars they are, and good ones, at that. Their command of large audiences is a testament to their showmanship and onscreen grandiosity, but they're not eligible for Emmys and you can bet that they don't take stage directions.

It might seem like a silly thing to get upset over, but there are things to consider. Forbes has not released a list of Highest Paid TV Actors for the year of 2012 yet, but if you look back at 2011's list, not a single reality star is present among the Top 10. Male figures are not as prevalent in reality TV, perhaps, but the distinct species resultant of this fact should be equally afforded to women. The melding of female performers with female reality icons does a disservice to the community of actresses, its gravitas and its reputation. Lists like these force women on TV to struggle with the connotations brought on by the reality stars of their gender; the men aren't faced with this challenge. However organically the imbalance might occur, it still produces a denigration of the female performer's craft. Women are just as serious and talented as men are, and lists that highlight this fact would be of much greater merit to females on television, and to the art of acting in general. 

So, excluding the reality stars, here is the true list of Top 5 Highest Paid TV Actresses of 2012:

1. Sofia Vergara: Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on Modern Family

2. Eva Longoria: Gabrielle Solis on Desperate Housewives

3. Tina Fey: Liz Lemon on 30 Rock

4. Mariska Hargitay: Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU

5. Zooey Deschanel: Jess Day on New Girl

[Photo Credit: David Edwards/Daily Celeb]

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