There are only 6 billionaires in Hollywood — here's how they became so much richer than other celebrities

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Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry
Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry at the Los Angeles premiere of "Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire" in November 2009.
  • Actor, writer, and producer Tyler Perry is Hollywood's newest billionaire.

  • Film directors and television personalities dominate the list of Tinseltown's wealthiest — but it doesn't contain anyone who has built a career solely off acting.

  • Hollywood's three comma club is significantly more diverse than the billionaire population as a whole; four of the six billionaires on this list are Black Americans.

  • Many of Hollywood's billionaires, including Jay-Z, made their fortunes from business ventures.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A lot of Hollywood entertainers are extremely wealthy — but fewer than you might think are actually billionaires.

What sets these six billionaire entertainers and studio executives apart from their peers is not only that they excelled in the industry, but that they leveraged their success to make investments that provide significant income beyond their salaries.

The Hollywood billionaires club may not stay small for long, however, as more and more stars launch their own clothing and beauty lines. Three celebrities — Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Tyler Perry — became billionaires in the past two years alone, thanks to their solid investment strategies.

Tinseltown's three comma club actually once had an additional member — Kylie Jenner. Forbes named the 23-year-old influencer the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 2019 only to revoke the title a little over a year later, saying that Jenner's team inflated her wealth in documents they provided to the publication about Jenner's assets and her company's revenue.

Keep reading for a closer look at how the Hollywood celebrities who are also billionaires built their respective fortunes.

Kanye West is a billionaire, although his exact net worth is disputed.

Kanye West
Kanye West.

West may have made a lot of money from his hit albums, but it's his streetwear brand Yeezy that made him a billionaire, Forbes reports. Forbes estimates that West is worth $1.3 billion. Meanwhile, West has claimed that he's actually worth $3.3 billion.

According to Forbes, West's fortune is divided between a $1.26 billion stake in athletic wear brand Yeezy, $17 million in cash, $35 million in stocks, $21 million in real estate, $3,845,162 worth of vehicles, $297,050 of livestock, and $53 million in debt shared with his wife, Kim Kardashian West.

Jay-Z's investments made him the world's first billionaire rapper, with a net worth of $1 billion.

jay z
Jay-Z reached billionaire status in June 2019.

Jay-Z pocketed approximately $500 million from his 14 No. 1 albums before taxes, but a large portion of his wealth comes from his business ventures, Forbes reported in 2019. He founded a clothing line that he sold to Iconix for $204 million in 2007 and co-owns cognac brand D'Ussé, in addition to owning music streaming service Tidal.

Jay-Z bought Tidal for $56 million in 2015. In 2017, Sprint bought a 33% stake in the company for $200 million, which put the company's valuation at $600 million. Jay-Z's stake was worth $100 million last year, according to Forbes.

In 2019 alone, Jay-Z earned a total of $81 million, according to the Forbes Celebrity 100 list, which put him at No. 20 among the year's highest-earning celebrities.

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey is worth $2.5 billion.

Oprah Winfrey
Since "The Oprah Winfrey Show" ended in 2011, Winfrey has focused on her television network and partnership with WW International (formerly Weight Watchers), in addition to dabbling in acting.

Born to a single mother in rural Mississippi, Winfrey started out as a news anchor before spending 25 years hosting "The Oprah Winfrey Show." The investments Winfrey made with her share of the show's profits are now worth about $2 billion, Forbes estimates. She became a billionaire in 2003, according to the Los Angeles Times

Winfrey, now 66, leveraged her show's success to build a media empire and amassed a fortune of $2.5 billion in the process, according to Forbes. She owns 25.5% of her television network OWN, an 8% stake in WW International, and has a content creation deal with Apple TV+.

Oprah has also voiced characters in "Charlotte's Web," "The Bee Movie," and "The Princess and the Frog," in addition to starring in "Lee Daniels' The Butler" and "Selma," among others, according to The Oprah Magazine.

Three-time Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg is worth $3.7 billion, according to Forbes.

steven spielberg
Steven Spielberg's wealth doesn't just come from his films' box office success. He also profits from every ticket sold to Universal theme parks thanks to rides based off of his films.

The box office success of "Jaws," "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," and "Jurassic Park," among others, have made Spielberg the top-grossing director of all time.

According to Forbes, most of Spielberg's fortune comes from his films, but he has also profited from his role as a consultant for Universal theme parks and the sale of DreamWorks Animation to NBCUniversal for $3.8 billion in 2016.

Spielberg co-founded DreamWorks Pictures alongside Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. While Forbes estimates that he's worth $3.7 billion, Bloomberg's Billionaires Index puts his net worth much higher, at $6.75 billion.

George Lucas, the creator of the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" franchises, is worth $5.7 billion, Forbes reports.

george lucas
George Lucas' film production studio, Lucasfilm, is known for its innovative use of computer-generated imagery in films like "Star Wars."

Lucas may be the brains behind two of the most well-known film franchises of our time, but he made most of his money by selling his production studio Lucasfilm to Disney for $4.05 billion in cash and stock in 2012, according to Bloomberg.

"Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace," released in 1999, was the top-grossing film Lucas directed and produced, raking in nearly $1.03 billion worldwide, according to IMDB.

While Forbes estimates that Lucas is worth $5.7 billion, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index pegs his net worth markedly higher, at $7.36 billion.

While Lucas originally aspired to be a racecar driver, he decided to pursue filmmaking after nearly dying in a car crash. Lucas studied filmmaking at USC before founding Lucasfilm, according to the university's website. Lucas retired from his studio in 2012 in order to turn his attention to independent films, according to The New York Times.

Tyler Perry is Hollywood's newest billionaire, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion.

FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2017, file photo, actor-filmmaker and author Tyler Perry poses for a portrait in New York. Perry is looking to reopen his 330-acre Atlanta-based mega studio soon, but other studios in Georgia are anxiously waiting for Hollywood's green light to return back to work. Perry plans on restarting production at the Tyler Perry Studios complex in July, making it one of the first studios to domestically reopen after production was halted a few months ago to combat the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Invision/AP, File)
Actor-filmmaker and author Tyler Perry poses for a portrait in New York.

Tyler Perry is an Atlanta-based writer, producer, and actor behind comic productions that tell the often-overlooked stories of Black America on national stage tours, BET, and the silver screen. He's perhaps best known for the Madea films, based on the character of a tough elderly woman he created and portrayed.

Forbes estimates that Perry has a net worth of $1 billion. Because Perry controls every aspect of his projects' production from his 330-acre Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, he generated $1.4 billion in pretax income since 2005, Forbes reported. Perry told Forbes he adopted that business strategy on the advice of fellow Hollywood billionaire Oprah Winfrey.

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