Top 10 Alpha Females
10 Erin Burnett
Despite having to put up with nicknames like “street sweetie” and being called a “knockout” by Chris Matthews, Erin Burnett is CNBC’s resident alpha female. Burnett began her career as a financial analyst for Goldman Sachs. She moved into media when she was offered a job as a writer on CNN’s MONEYLINE. From there, she joined Citigroup where she served as the vice president of Citigroup/CitiMedia. After a brief stint with the cable financial news channel Bloomberg, Burnett took on her current duties as host of Street Signs and coanchor of Squawk on the Street for CNBC. At only 34 years old, Burnett has clearly worked her way up through the ranks quickly, indicating a fierce drive and work ethic.
9 Kathryn Bigelow
Among the top working female directors in film today, Kathryn Bigelow stands apart. Unlike Nancy Meyers, Catherine Hardwicke or even Sofia Coppola, Bigelow made her name working in genres dominated by male filmmakers. With films like Point Break, she has stood toe-to-toe with John McTiernan, Richard Donner and Renny Harlin — journeyman directors who have made action pictures their bread and butter. In 2009, Bigelow rose to the top of the industry when she won the best directing Oscar for The Hurt Locker. In fact, she made history that year by becoming the first woman to win an Oscar for directing, as well as the Directors Guild of America award and the BAFTA. She also toppled Mr. Titanic (and her ex-husband/producer) James Cameron. We’d like to see Nancy Meyers do all that with her next dramedy.
8 Ivanka Trump
For anyone who has watched The Celebrity Apprentice, it’s clear that it’s Ivanka Trump and not older brother Don Jr. who is the heir apparent to the Donald. Ivanka is one blond heiress with a head on her shoulders — she’s clearly smart and capable. As vice president of real estate development and acquisitions for The Trump Organiztion, she expanded the family brand internationally with projects in Panama City and Dubai, among others. In addition to a position in daddy Donald’s company, her role on The Celebrity Apprentice, Ivanka also runs her own eponymous jewelry line, for which she also serves the spokesmodel. So, if her TV and real estate money dries up, she can always fall back on this diamond-encrusted safety net.
7 Salma Hayek
Salma Hayek burst onto the English-language movie scene with her memorable role in Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado in 1995. Since then, she’s been running in slow motion through our minds. You look at her filmography as an actress and it’s not stellar: Fools Rush In, The Faculty, Wild Wild West, Beverly Hills Chihuahua. On the other hand, she’s steadily been making her reputation behind the camera as a director and producer, beginning with her respected debut as a producer with Frida. From there, Hayek went on to develop Ugly Betty for American television. She also founded her own production company, Ventanarosa, and signed a two-year development deal with ABC. Hayek is well on her way to transforming from onscreen sexpot to Hollywood mogul.
6 Lady Gaga
In the span of about a year, Lady Gaga has seemingly come from nowhere to be the hottest thing going in pop music. Her videos are spectacles on par with the works of Michael Jackson and Madonna in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. She’s proven to be a showstopper for every award show where she’s performed her bizarre, over-the-top set pieces. Unlike a lot of pop stars, Lady Gaga seems to be a creation all her own — there doesn’t seem to be a team of people guiding and molding her. Gaga is driving the bus. In 2010, Forbes ranked her No. 4 on its list of the 100 Most Powerful and Influential Celebrities. She ranked just below Oprah, Beyonce and James Cameron — not bad for a 24-year-old girl from New York.
5 Gisele Bundchen
For six consecutive years running, Forbes has listed Gisele Bundchen as the highest-earning model in the world. With an estimated $25 million in total earnings, Bundchen has asserted her dominance in the fashion industry. She’s been featured in campaigns for virtually ever major fashion house and graced the cover of just about any magazine you can think of this side of Field & Stream. Her deal with Victoria’s Secret is also reported to be the largest single-model contract in the entire fashion industry. If being an alpha female means completely dominating your industry, then Bundchen has earned her spot in the top five.
4 Heidi Klum
Heidi Klum went from modeling contest winner at the age of 19 to full-fledged supermodel in the span of only a few years. She’s appeared on the covers of Elle, Marie Claire and Vogue, and has been a staple feature of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and the Victoria’s Secret catalog. She’s been a spokesmodel for Volkswagen, Braun and McDonald’s, among many other major brands. But Klum is probably best known as the host and executive producer of Project Runway. For her work on the show, she has received six Emmy nominations. She and the show also won a Peabody Award in 2008, marking the first time a reality show had been given the award. Klum is every bit ambitious and business savvy as media mogulette Tyra Banks, minus the all-consuming ego and loud mouth. That’s why she’s No. 4 on our list of the top alpha females.
3 Tina Fey
Tina Fey may play a bungling, unlucky-in-love nerd on 30 Rock, but she’s no pushover in real life. Fey began her comedy career by working her way through the ranks of Second City. In 1997, she scored a writing gig on Saturday Night Live. Two years later, Fey was promoted and became the first female head writer in the show’s history. Now starring on one of the most respected shows on television, Fey also works as 30 Rock’s show-runner. No doubt, like Liz Lemon, she’s forced to constantly juggle the crazy of the show’s other two stars, Tracy Morgan and Alec Baldwin (two guys with a psych-ward’s worth of crazy between them). For all of her hard work, this alpha female has won four Emmy Awards, two Golden Globes and five Writers Guild of America awards, and has established herself as one of the leading voices in American comedy.
2 Serena Williams
Serena Williams is currently the No. 1 ranked female tennis player in the world, a title she’s held four previous times. She’s won 27 Grand Slam titles to date, placing her ninth on the list of all-time female players. Williams has earned more prize money than any other female athlete in history. She’s also proven to be a dynamo in the business world. In 2004, she signed a $40 million sponsorship contract with Nike, which resulted in her own line of shoes and apparel. Williams also has a lucrative endorsement deal with Proctor & Gamble. Last year, she and her sister Venus became part owners of the Miami Dolphins. This deal made the Williams sisters the first African American women to have ownership of an NFL franchise. Since going pro at the age of 14, Serena Williams has proven she’s a true alpha female.
At 28 years old, Beyonce is already an icon of the music industry. The Diana Ross of her generation, Beyonce has so thoroughly established herself as a powerful solo artist that it’s hard to remember her Destiny’s Child days. She has sold over 100 million albums worldwide. She holds the record for most Grammy Awards won by a female artist in a single night with the six she received in 2010. Beyonce has been a spokesmodel for L’Oréal, Tommy Hilfiger and Armani. She also has her own fragrance and two clothing lines. Beyonce’s film career is also nothing to sneeze at. She’s received two Golden Globe nominations, as an actress and songwriter, for her work on Dreamgirls. She’s become a producer with two feature films under her belt. In 2010, Forbes ranked Beyonce second only to Oprah on its list of the 100 Most Powerful and Influential Celebrities. Did we mention she’s only 28?