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Celebrity Role Models – Who Do Parents Think Is the Best Role Model for Their Children?

In this article we take a look at the Top Celebrity Role Models voted by parents in the UK. We asked 2,000 UK parents who they think is best celebrity role model for their children. The survey was carried out in November 2019 and the results were as follows. 

RankNameOccupation% of Votes
#1Richard BransonBritish Business Magnate6.69%
#2David BeckhamEnglish Footballer5.45%
#3Alan Sugar British Business Magnate4.44%
#4Bill Gates American Business Magnate4.29%
#5Barack ObamaPresident2.84%
#6JK RowlingBritish Author2.47%
#7David AttenbroughEnglish Broadcaster and Natural Historian2.33%
#8Holly WilloughbyEnglish Television Presenter1.67%
#9Michelle ObamaAmerican Lawyer1.53%
#10Emma Watson English Actress1.38%
#11Steve JobsAmerican Business Magnate1.38%
#12Cristiano RonaldoPortuguese footballer1.31%
#13Greta ThunbergSwedish Environmental Activist1.24%
#14Kate MiddletonBritish Royalty1.24%
#15Stephen HawkingEnglish Theoretical Physicist 1.24%

Our study revealed that 1 in 15 parents see Richard Branson as the best Celebrity Role Model for their child

As you can see from the table above, Sir Richard Branson holds the top spot, receiving the 6.69% of votes from UK parents for being the Number 1 Celebrity Role Model for their Children in 2019. This is unsurprising considering Branson’s ever-growing career success, being the founder of the multinational capital conglomerate Virgin Group Ltd and also being named one of the richest men in Britain. 

It seems hard work and dedication are highly regarded traits, as English Footballer David Beckham follows closely behind first spot, as he received 5.45% of votes and ranked second overall in the table of Best Celebrity Role Models for Children in the UK. As well as his role in Manchester United’s run to win treble in 1998-99, David Beckham is also the highest paid English footballer there has even been. Is anyone else noticing a pattern here? 

Speaking of wealth and success, the celebrity ranking in third spot on our list is Sir Alan Sugar who has developed an abundance of affluence and successes throughout his life. He is also well known for appearing in the business style reality game show, the Apprentice, where candidates compete to be hired by Sir Alan Sugar himself. 4.44% of all votes submitted were for Sir Alan Sugar. 

Although deep pockets and a history of success appear to be strong influences on parents’ decision-making when it comes to role models for their children, other factors – such as generosity and brains – appear to also play a significant role. Co-founder of the multinational technology company Microsoft, Bill Gates received a high number of votes (4.29%)  from parents across the UK. Interestingly, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have been named the most generous philanthropists in the US, having given a total of over $36 billion to a variety of charities. 

As well as Bill Gates, a substantial proportion of UK parents’ role models for their children are in fact American, with former US president Barack Obama reaching 5th spot in the ranks and receiving 2.84% of votes. During and after his time as president, Obama has been highly regarded by many as a positive role model for children and young people, so it’s unsurprising that around 1 in every 35 UK parents class him as a role model for their children. 


What kinds of celebrities were chosen?


When we asked the question ‘Who do you think is the best celebrity role model for your child?’ we received a wide variety of responses, with 424 different celebrities all being put forward from a range of backgrounds. 

But which kinds of people do UK parents most consider to be good celebrity role models for their children? In this section we take a closer look at the demographics and occupations of the top voted celebrity role models for children in 2019. 


As you can see from the chart below, a staggering 73.33% majority of the celebrities chosen were male, meaning that only around 1 in 4 celebrity role models are female.

Gender of Celebrity Role Models for Children

But why is there such a divide?


There are a whole host of possible reasons for this outcome, one of which being financial considerations. If wealth is the main motivating factor for parents when choosing a role model for their child, this gender difference may be somewhat unsurprising, as currently the 10 richest people in the world are male. What’s more, men tend to be paid significantly more than women throughout their careers, with women in the UK being paid an average of 8.9% less than men. 


*In order to categorise each celebrity’s gender correctly, we examined Wikipedia pages and publications that mentioned them in order to discover which gender they identified as. For fictional characters such as ‘Paw Patrol’ and groups of people with multiple genders such as ‘Game Shakers’, we listed these celebrities’ under ‘N/A’. 


Which occupation is most popular amongst celebrity role models? To find out we sorted the responses from our study into different occupational groups from members of the royal family to chefs and sportspeople. 

OccupationPercentage of votes
Business People20.49%
Sports people 13.81%
Politicians 7.85%
TV or Radio Presenters 6.61%
Royal Family Members 4.29%
Naturalists 2.62%
Religious Figures2.11%
Legal Professionals1.67%
Fictional Characters 1.24%
Media Personalities0.87%
Civil Service Members0.51%
Film or Game Makers 0.29%
Pastors 0.22%
Fashion Designers0.15%
Serial Killers 0.07%

The occupations of UK parents biggest celebrity role models for their children. 


  • 1 in 5 (20.49%) votes made by UK parents were for Business magnates and Entrepreneurs, with successful leaders such as Richard Branson and Bill Gates making the Top 5.


  • This was then followed by Sports people (13.81%) such as David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo, who fared very well in the ranks. The third most popular occupational category was Actors and Actresses, who received 12.28% of parents’ votes and included big names such as Emma Watson and Will Smith.


  • The study showed that more parents want their children to be Actresses and Actors than Academics and Activists


  • Musicians such as Ed Sheeran and Beyonce Knowles ranked highly too, accounting for almost 1 in every 10 votes made. Politicians were also a popular choice for UK parents when deciding on the best role model for their children, with members of this category such as Barack Obama and Donald Trump receiving 7.85% of votes.


  • Performance orientated careers seemed to be the most desired, with 3 of the top 5 occupations being centred around some sort of performance. 


*Many of the celebrities named in this study are well-known and admired for more than one occupation (e.g – Emma Watson as an actress, model and activist). However, in the groupings above we have named just one occupation for each celebrity that we feel they are most famous for. 

Here is the full List of the Top 50 Celebrity Role Models voted by UK Parents:



Rank Name Occupation Gender     

% of Vote


1 Richard Branson British Entrepreneur M 6.6860
2 David Beckham English Footballer M 5.4506
3 Alan Sugar British Entrepreneur M 4.4331
4 Bill Gates AmericanEntrepreneur M 4.2878
5 Barack Obama Former US President M 2.8343
6 JK Rowling British author F 2.4709
7 David Attenbrough British broadcaster and natural historian M 2.3256
8 Holly Willoughby English television presenter F 1.6715
9 Michelle Obama American lawyer F 1.5262
10 Emma Watson British actress F 1.3808
11 Steve Jobs American Entrepreneur M 1.3808
12 Cristiano Ronaldo Portuguese footballer M 1.3081
13 Stephen Hawking English theoretical physicist M 1.2355
14 Greta Thunberg Swedish environmental activist F 1.2355
15 Kate Middleton British Royalty F 1.2355
16 Will Smith American actor and rapper M 1.1628
17 Albert Einstein Physicist developed the theory of relativity M 1.0901
18 Donald Trump President M 1.0901
19 Elon Musk American entrepreneur, M 1.0174
20 Gordon Ramsey British chef M 1.0174
21 Dwayne Johnson American-Canadian actor M 0.9448
22 Boris Johnson British Prime Minister M 0.9448
23 Prince William British Royalty M 0.9448
24 Brian Cox Physicist M 0.7994
25 Mark Zuckerberg American entrepreneur M 0.7267
26 Jamie Oliver British chef M 0.7267
27 Beyonce Knowles American singer- songwriter F 0.7267
28 The Queen British royalty F 0.7267
28 Victoria Beckham British Entrepreneur, fashion designer and singer F 0.6541
30 Jesus Christ Jewish preacher M 0.6541
31 Oprah Winfrey American media executive, presenter F 0.5814
32 Prince Harry British Royalty M 0.5814
33 Nelson Mandela South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and political leader M 0.5087
34 Simon Cowell English talent manager and entrepreneur M 0.5087
35 Phillip Schofield English television presenter M 0.5087
36 Bear Grylls British TV presenter M 0.5087
37 Jessica Ennis-Hill British track and field athlete F 0.5087
38 Brad Pitt American actor M 0.4360
39 Keanu Reeves Canadian actor and musician M 0.4360
40 Leonardo Di Caprio American actor M 0.4360
41 Stephen Fry English actor M 0.4360
42 Peter Jones British entrepreneur M 0.4360
43 Ed Sheeran British singer, songwriter M 0.4360
44 Adele British Singer-songwriter F 0.4360
45 Ben Carson American politician M 0.4360
46 Gandhi Indian lawyer and political ethicist M 0.4360
47 Lionel Messi Argentine footballer M 0.4360
48 Michael Jackson American singer, songwriter M 0.3634
49 Andy Murray Scottish Tennis Player M 0.3634
50 Harry Kane English footballer M 0.3634


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