Sure, Mary-Kate Olsen struggled with an eating disorder. And yeah, Lindsay Lohan has dipped into a drug or two. But not all young stars are troubled — despite what the tabloids would have you believe.
But all young superstars do have one thing in common: money, and lots of it.
In fact, according to Forbes' annual listing of the World's Most Powerful Celebrities, the 11 youngsters on our list earned some $127 million in just one year. And not one of them has even cracked the quarter-century mark yet.
But perhaps this shouldn't surprise us. After all, age is no barrier to starring in a hit movie, cutting a chart-topping album or winning a Grand Slam tennis title. Indeed, in some endeavors, younger bodies are much preferable to older ones.
Take 21-year-old NBA phenom LeBron James. In less than three seasons in the league, the Cleveland Cavaliers' forward, who skipped college to go pro in 2003, has proved himself to be one of the league's premier players. Thanks to his remarkable stats and a laundry list of endorsements, which include Nike, Upper Deck and Coca Cola, the 6-foot-8 All-Star earned some $23 million. And he may do even better — and move to another team — when he renews his contract next year.
While it's been mostly smooth sailing for James, its been a pretty turbulent year for Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. The darling duo underwent a high-profile split with their manager, and Mary-Kate had a public struggle with an eating disorder before abruptly departing New York University. But despite the drama — and no new movies since 2004 — the twins manage to keep their pocketbooks padded with royalties and income from their own production company and retail outfit. In all, the various ventures added up to $21 million for the Olsens.
And then there are the young and beautiful. Looks alone have done it for Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima. With a pretty face — and a body to match — the leggy brunette has cat-walked her way into deals with Victoria's Secret, Maybelline and Telecom Italia Mobile. It all added up to $4.5 million for the 24-year-old stunner.
Then there are the celebrities who cash in on being, well, celebrities. Case in point: Paris Hilton. Daddy isn't the only one making the big bucks anymore; the dippy heiress pulled in $6.5 million, mostly for just being herself. The 24-year-old makes headlines for her flashy wardrobe, exotic — nay, illegal — pets and high-profile feuds. But she makes her money as a "reality"-TV star and best-selling author, as well as by plugging her perfume. And that's when she's not making appearances at the trendiest nightclubs (oh yes, this diva gets paid to party).
To come up with our list of the world's best-paid young celebrities, we relied on the 2005 edition of Forbes' The Celebrity 100. That list ranks the most powerful actors, athletes, chefs and directors based on their media exposure (magazine covers, TV and radio mentions), Web presence (number of Google hits) and earnings.