Kiera Chaplin proves Hollywood success is all in the genes

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The Independent Online

As the scion of a showbusiness legend, Kiera Chaplin has entertainment in her blood. At the tender age of 23, the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin and great-granddaughter of the Irish playwright Eugene O'Neill has already forged a successful career in film and fashion.

And this weekend, she will be named as one of the wealthiest young entertainers from the UK by The Sunday Times Rich List, which estimates her personal fortune at £30m.

The model and actress, who also has a 30 per cent stake in the Hollywood-based film company Limelight Productions, is ranked the second richest entertainer aged 30 and under, only narrowly beaten by the violinist Vanessa-Mae Nicholson, who is worth £32m.

Born in Belfast in 1982, Chaplin is the daughter of Eugene Chaplin, the fifth child of the silent-films star and his fourth and last wife, Oona O'Neill. She grew up in Switzerland, and now lives in Los Angeles with her French fiancé, Ale de Basseville.

At 16, Chaplin was spotted by Fabienne Martin of the Paris modelling agency Next Models and went on to star in fashion shoots for Vogue, Elle, GQ and the 2002 Pirelli calendar. Voted one of the top 20 most eligible women in the world by FHM magazine in the US, Chaplin has not been content to excel in one arena.

She has appeared in six films, including The Importance of Being Ernest alongside Rupert Everett and Colin Firth in 2002. Her latest film, the independent movie Japan, with Peter Fonda, is in production. She is also taking part in a biopic of the Dominican playboy Porfirio Rubirosa, called Chasing Rubi. But her main focus for the past two years has been Limelight Productions, the film company which she chairs and whose hits include the Oscar-nominated The Professional.

Maintaining her links with the fashion world, Chaplin has also launched her own "tribute to Charlie" clothing line, called Nostalgia, and is a brand ambassador for Tommy Hilfiger as well as the new face of Leviev diamonds. In 2004, she was made the president of, a website catering to the super-rich, helping them to source that elusive Ferrari or helicopter.

Philip Beresford, who has compiled The Sunday Times Rich List for the past 18 years, said Chaplin was "really unique". He added: "She is a veritable polymath. There is no one else who has got it in the genes and has done so much themselves."

The wealthiest of the young entertainers, Vanessa-Mae Nicholson, 27, has accumulated a £32m fortune since she played with the London Philharmonia at the age of 10. The violinist, who was born in Singapore to a Chinese father and Thai mother, has sold more than eight million albums worldwide. Shedivides her time between her home in Kensington, London and her ski lodge in Val d'Isère in the French Alps, where she is building a lodge to indulge her passion for skiing.

Joint third in the list are Chris Martin and his fellow members of Coldplay, with £25m apiece, following the release of their 2005 album X&Y.The actors Orlando Bloom, Kate Winslet and Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, and singers Will Young, Charlotte Church, Joss Stone and James Blunt also made it into the top 20 of wealthy young entertainers.

Elsewhere in the Rich List, Joanne Rowling has been propelled to the top of the list of millionaires in film and television thanks to the success of the Harry Potter films, with a £520m fortune.