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The 40-year-old, Colombian-born Modern Family star has only been a household name (in the U.S., at least) for two or three years, thanks to her role as Gloria on the hit sitcom. Nonetheless, the No. 1 highest-paid actress has been smart enough to leverage her new fame into some big-time endorsement deals (Diet Pepsi, CoverGirl), a clothing line for K-Mart, and a budding movie career. Turns out she's also active behind the scenes, co-managing Latin World Entertainment, "the leading Hispanic talent management firm in the United States." In total, she earned about $19 million last year, placing her ahead of the serious competitor in the No. 2 slot: Kim Kardashian.
Yes, Kim Kardashian is considered an "actress," for the sake of Forbes' list. And while we can debate whether that label fits, there's no arguing with the numbers. Between her E! wedding special, her family's $40 million contract for Keeping Up with the Kardashians, her fragrance line, and her various fashion ventures (including DASH, Kardashian Khaos, and Kardashian Kollection for Sears), Kim raked in around $18 million last year alone.
Although Kim is the most profitable Kardashian, she may want to look over her shoulder at her little sister Khloe Kardashian Odom, who also made the Forbes list at No. 5. Not only is she a partner in the Kardashian family's TV and fashion empires, but Khloe has developed her own successful brand with husband Lamar Odom, including the show Khloe & Lamar and the unisex Unbreakable fragrance. In an article accompanying the list, Forbes claims that Khloe is the "dark horse" of her family, the Kardashian sister with the most business sense and the most personal relationship with her fans. Way to stoke the flames of sibling rivalry, Forbes!
One more reality star made it into this year's top five: Bethenny Frankel. All that aggressive brand-building has paid off for the former Real Housewives of New York star, who spent 2012 premiering her Ellen DeGeneres-produced daytime talk show, writing her novel Skinnydipping and shooting her Bravo serie, Bethenny Ever After. In total, she made about $12 million -- and that's without SkinnyGirl Cocktails, which she sold in 2011.
Rounding out the top 10 were non-reality stars Eva Longoria of Desperate Housewives at No. 3 ($15 million), 30 Rock's Tina Fey in a tie for fifth with Khloe Kardashian ($11 million), Mariska Hargitay at No. 7 ($10 million), and Zooey Deschanel, Felicity Huffman and Ellen Pompeo tied for No. 8 with $9 million in earnings.
For more details and the full list, click over to Forbes.