Michelle Obama surpasses Oprah as most powerful African American woman on Forbes’ list


First Lady Michelle Obama placed 10th on the list. (Photo: The Daily Beast)


NEW YORK, United States, Thursday May 28, 2015 – For as long as most of us can remember, billionaire media mogul, actress and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey has reigned supreme as the most powerful and influential African American woman of all time.

Oprah was nevertheless dethroned this week when Forbes magazine’s Most Powerful Women 2015 listed her at number 12, two spots behind the United States’ charismatic First Lady Michelle Obama, who placed 10th.

Winfrey was nevertheless the most powerful woman in entertainment, beating out such luminaries as Beyonce at 21, Ellen DeGeneres at number 50, Angelina Jolie at number 54 and Sofia Vergara at number 57.

Also making the cut was singer/songwriter Taylor Swift, who at the age of 25 became the youngest woman ever to be included on the Forbes list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.

Swift was included at number 64 in the list because, Forbes says, she “has not only broken record sales and captivated the world with her fantastically honest lyrics, but she has proven herself as an impressive businesswoman.”

Other powerful woman listed include Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg (8), Vogue’s Anna Wintour (28), media publisher Arianna Huffington and designer Tory Burch.

Federica Mogherini, the European Union Foreign Policy Chief, is highest new entry at 36 followed by Polish Prime minister Ewa Kopacz at 40.

Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, under whose stewardship the West African country went from an Ebola-ravaged nightmare to the first affected country to be declared Ebola-free, placed 96th.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II took 41st place.

According to a Forbes spokesman: “The Queen has been on the Most Powerful Women list every year since its inception in 2004. She is a constant. Her moving six spots, a small change in the broad view, represents the dynamism and ebb and flow of the list. Every year it changes based on who makes the cut and their relative successes over the past year.”

The Queen was one of only three Britons to make it in the Forbes magazine list. The low-profile Deputy Governor of the Bank of England Nemal Shafik was the highest new British entry at number 66 while Guardian Editor-in-Chief Katharine Viner was a newcomer at number 80.

The world’s most powerful woman remains German Chancellor Angela Merkel, followed in second place by former US Secretary of State and presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton. Philanthropist Melinda Gates rounded off the top three.

There were 15 billionaires with a net worth of US$73.3 billion (not including Melinda Gates), 24 chief executives and 19 newcomers in the latest list.

This year’s power women have a combined social media footprint that includes 474 million Twitter and YouTube followers.


1. Angela Merkel
2. Hillary Clinton
3. Melinda Gates
4. Janet Yellen
5. Mary Barra
6. Christine Lagarde
7. Dilma Rousseff
8. Sheryl Sandberg
9. Susan Wojcicki
10. Michelle Obama
11. Park Geun-hye
12. Oprah Winfrey
13. Ginni Rometty
14. Meg Whitman
15. Indra Nooyi
16. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
17. Irene Rosenfeld
18. Ana Patricia Botín
19. Abigail Johnson
20. Marillyn Hewson
21. Beyoncé Knowles
22. Marissa Mayer
23. Helen Clark
24. Safra Catz
25. Angela Ahrendts
26. Ellen Kullman
27. Michelle Bachelet
28. Anna Wintour
29. Ursula Burns
30. Arundhati Bhattacharya
31. Sri Mulyani Indrawati
32. Ruth Porat
33. Lucy Peng
34. Loretta Lynch
35. Chanda Kochhar
36. Federica Mogherini
37. Gina Rinehart
38. Nancy Pelosi
39. Adena Friedman
40. Ewa Kopacz
41. Queen Elizabeth II
42. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi
43. Ho Ching
44. Laurene Powell Jobs
45. Renée James
46. Drew Gilpin Faust
47. Ertharin Cousin
48.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
49. Samantha Power
50. Ellen DeGeneres
51. Amy Hood
52. Bonnie Hammer
53. Mary Callahan Erdoes
54. Angelina Jolie
55. Beth Comstock
56. Phebe Novakovic
57. Sofía Vergara
58. Donna Langley
59. Sheikh Hasina Wajed
60. Katie Jacobs Stanton
61. Arianna Huffington
62. Margaret Chan
63. Mary Jo White
64. Taylor Swift
65. Rosalind Brewer
66. Nemat (Minouche) Shafik
67. Lubna S. Olayan
68. Peng Liyuan
69. Zhang Xin
70. Güler Sabanci
71. Elvira Nabiullina
72. Elizabeth Holmes
73. Tory Burch
74. Dana Walden
75. Diane von Furstenberg
76. Carol Meyrowitz
77. Mary Meeker
78. Solina Chau
79. Miuccia Prada
80. Katharine Viner
81. Shakira Mebarak
82. Yao Chen
83. Fabiola Gianotti
84.Padmasree Warrior
85. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
86. Kaci Kullmann Five
87. Folorunsho Alakija
88. Judy Faulkner
89. Patricia Harris
90. Gwynne Shotwell
91. Sara Blakely
92. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey
93. Shobhana Bhartia
94. Beth Brooke-Marciniak
95. Weili Dai
96. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
97. Raja Easa Al Gurg
98. Jenny Lee
99. Greta Van Susteren
100. Lee Boo-Jin

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