For 60 years, Playboy has celebrated the coolest, most captivating and most beautiful women in the world. That’s why we’re featuring these empowered women who embrace their talent and sexuality and take charge, kick ass and take names. These celebrity babes are more than a pretty face, a song on the radio or a blockbuster movie role: these women are our favorite risk-takers and heartbreakers! They’re not afraid to go it alone and they’re not waiting around for their knights in shining armor.


Born to a film director father and actress mother, Gwyneth Paltrow has an Oscar on her mantel, proving she’s no silver spoon Hollywood wannabe. Paltrow’s established herself as one of the most successful actresses of our time. The range of movies she’s starred in over the last 20 years is dazzling; from Shakespeare in Love to the Iron Man franchise, Paltrow’s ruled the screen playing every kind of character imaginable. Her stunning looks continue to mesmerize the public, with People Magazine crowning her “Most Beautiful Woman” just last year. She was engaged to Brad Pitt and they were together from 1994 to 1997 until Paltrow called it off, reputedly breaking the heart of one of the most famous men in the world. She also dated Ben Affleck and Luke Wilson, but then she turned from actors to a rocker with Coldplay’s Chris Martin. They met in 2002 and were married in 2003 but shocked the world with their announcement in March of this year that they were separating (“conscious uncoupling” was the term they used). What’s next for Gwyneth Paltrow? You can be sure she’ll come out on top no matter what comes her way.


When actress Paula Patton stars in action movies like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and 2 Guns, she’s no passive romantic interest or damsel in distress: she’s onscreen kicking ass as an action star. These roles are fiction echoing reality since Patton is one powerful and formidable megababe. Patton is newsworthy any day, but her recent split from soul singer Robin Thicke has her name in every tabloid. The two started dating when they were only teens and married in 2005; however, was Thicke’s grinding with Miley Cyrus and stuffing his videos with naked models too much for Patton? According to reports in the media, Patton isn’t up for reconciling with Thicke even though he’s trying to rekindle their relationship. Thicke, one of the most famous musicians in the world right now, has gone as far as pleading for Patton to take him back in front of an audience of thousands while onstage in concert. Who can blame Robin Thicke? We’d be begging for Paula Patton too.


Pop diva Katy Perry’s ruled the pop charts with each of her releases. She’s starred in her own hit concert movie. She’s a style icon, looking like no previous pop star in outfits ranging from retro pinup to candy-coated latex. Perry is the ultimate in feminine and sexy, but, as you know from her singles “Roar” and “Wide Awake,” she’s one tough cookie. She holds her own in love, having been married to Russell Brand (famous for his biting comedy, high sex drive, political activism and getting with other celeb women like Kate Moss and Courtney Love), plus Perry’s dated musician (and notorious serial dater of famous chicks) John Mayer off and on since 2012. The two are currently “off” as Perry purportedly kicked Mayer to the curb this February after he kissed another woman. We don’t think anyone is disappointed this pop goddess is free; hear this single lady roar!


“Selena Gomez: When Good Girls Go Bad” is the title of our 2013 piece about the transformation of Selena Gomez from Disney teenybopper to sex-bomb actress and musician; she’s gone from goody-goody to wicked badass. Gomez started acting in commercials and children’s shows when she was only 10 years old with roles on Disney sitcoms like Hannah Montana and Wizards of Waverly Place. But she’s left Disney fare in the dust. Now 21, Gomez is a sex symbol acting in thrillers like Aftershock and Getaway and flaunting her fine self in a skimpy bikini while causing mayhem in Spring Breakers. Not to mention, she put out the best-selling solo album Stars Dance, featuring a banging electronic sound. All of this, plus she put up with Justin Bieber, whom she allegedly dumped via text when his antics were too much. And while there was no truth to a rumor that Gomez shot a pictorial for Playboy, we’d be happy to have her.


The pouty-lipped, heavily inked, supernaturally gorgeous Angelina Jolie is approaching her late 30s, which is ancient in Hollywood years, yet remains the standard by which celeb beauty is judged. She’s more than a pretty face—Jolie is hardcore in her action flicks like Tomb Raider and Gone in 60 Seconds. And she carries her explosive lifestyle offscreen with her too: she has her pilot’s license and loves to fly, practices martial arts and tours the world’s war zones for her humanitarian work. Jolie is openly bisexual, meaning she’s broken the hearts of ladies and gentlemen alike. She’s also been public about her love of rough S&M sex…yowza! Jolie’s settled down a bit with her fiancé Brad Pitt, whom she met on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith while he was married to Jennifer Aniston, which didn’t get in the way of Pitt and Jolie getting together. Angelina Jolie is still the woman at the top—it’s her world and we all just live in it. That’s just fine by us.