How Much Do Jobbing Actors Get Paid: Exploring Salaries in the Entertainment Industry

As the entertainment industry continues to thrive, more and more aspiring actors are hoping to make it big. But have you ever wondered how much do jobbing actors get paid? Well, the truth is, it’s not as much as you might think. While there are countless movies and TV shows out there, there are even more actors hoping to land those coveted roles. The demand for actors is high, but so is the competition. So, what exactly does it take to make a living as a jobbing actor?

To give you an idea, according to the Actors’ Equity Association, the minimum pay for a jobbing actor in a Broadway show is $2,034 per week. But this is only if the show is making a certain amount of money. If it falls below that threshold, actors can make as little as $1,145 per week. This might sound like a lot of money, but keep in mind that most Broadway shows only last for a few months. And even if an actor is lucky enough to land a lead role in a show, they still have to pay for their own housing, transportation, and other expenses.

So, what about TV and film? While the pay varies depending on the project, most jobbing actors earn around $50,000 to $60,000 per year. And that’s if they’re working consistently. Many actors go months – or even years – between gigs, which can make it difficult to sustain a living. And let’s not forget about the fact that actors have to pay for their own training, headshots, and other professional expenses. All of this leads to the question: Is it worth it to pursue a career as a jobbing actor? Only you can decide.

The State of the Acting Industry

The acting industry can be a highly competitive field, making it challenging for actors to secure regular work and earn a stable income. With the rise of streaming services and social media, the industry has been undergoing significant changes that have further impacted the earning potential of actors. Here are some key factors that are shaping the state of the acting industry today:

  • Changes in the way content is consumed: With the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, traditional cable TV is losing viewership which resulted in fewer opportunities for actors to acquire traditional TV and movie jobs.
  • Role of online content: In the present day, social media platforms like Tiktok, Youtube and Instagram represents a new avenue to showcase one’s acting skills to a large audience and secure independent income sources through Creator funds.
  • Increased diversity and inclusivity: Diversity has become a more central issue in recent years, with increased representation for diverse groups, such as people of color and LGBTQ+ performers, leading to more career opportunities for actors from marginalized communities.

How much do jobbing actors get paid?

The pay scale for actors can vary depending on several factors, including their experience, reputation, whether they are union members or not, and the type of gig. Generally, jobbing actors, i.e., actors who do not have a primary role in TV shows or movies, earn a daily rate.

According to a report published by FindCourses, a jobbing actor can expect to earn between $100 to $250 per day. Meanwhile, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) standard minimum wage for low budget films is $630 per day, excluding benefits. The wage for an actor doing voice-over work on a video game or animation work is $205 for 2 hours of work.

Type of Job Average Wage
High-budget movie or TV show $2,000 to $5,000 per day, plus residuals
Low-budget movie or TV show $630 per day, excluding benefits (SAG-AFTRA minimum)
Voice-over work $205 for 2 hours of work (SAG-AFTRA minimum)

It is crucial to note that these figures are not standardized and may fluctuate depending on the actor, location, and production details. Some actors may agree to work for lower rates if they are just starting and are looking to build their reputation, especially if the production budget they are working with is small. Several hourly and per-project payment structures may exist, and they must be discussed by all parties involved before the project begins.

Factors that influence an actor’s pay

Acting can be a lucrative career, but there are various factors that can affect how much an actor gets paid. Some of these factors include:

  • The type of acting job: Different acting jobs come with different pay rates. For instance, lead actors in feature films tend to make more than supporting actors in TV shows.
  • The actor’s experience: Actors who have more experience and a proven track record of success tend to get paid more than up-and-coming actors.
  • The production’s budget: Higher-budget productions can afford to pay actors more than lower-budget productions.

Let’s take a closer look at how these factors influence an actor’s pay:

Firstly, the type of acting job is one of the biggest determinants of an actor’s pay. For example, lead roles in major motion pictures often come with multi-million dollar paychecks, whereas supporting roles on a TV show can pay significantly less. Additionally, voice-over work for commercials or animated movies typically pays less than on-camera acting in live-action films.

The actor’s experience is also a major factor in determining how much they are paid. Veteran actors who have been in the business for many years and have a solid track record of success generally command higher salaries than younger or inexperienced actors. For example, established movie stars like Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert Downey Jr. can earn tens of millions of dollars per film, while lesser-known actors may only make a few thousand dollars for a small supporting role.

The production’s budget is another major determinant of how much actors get paid. When a movie or TV show has a high budget, there is more money available to pay the cast and crew. This is why big-budget films often have high-profile actors in the lead roles, while low-budget indie films may rely on lesser-known actors to save on production costs.

To illustrate this point, here’s a table showing the estimated budgets for five recent movies and their lead actors’ reported salaries:

Movie Estimated Budget Lead Actor Reported Salary
Avengers: Endgame $356 million Robert Downey Jr. $75 million
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood $90 million Leonardo DiCaprio $10 million
Us $20 million Lupita Nyong’o $500,000
The Irishman $159 million Robert De Niro $20 million
Roma $15 million Yalitza Aparicio $65,000

In conclusion, a number of factors can influence an actor’s pay, including the type of acting job, the actor’s experience, and the production’s budget. While some actors may earn multi-million dollar salaries for lead roles in big-budget films, the majority of actors earn much lower salaries for more modest roles. Nonetheless, acting can still be a fulfilling and rewarding career for those who are passionate about the craft.

Minimum wage laws for actors

As with any job, actors are entitled to be paid a lawful minimum wage for their work. The laws surrounding minimum wage for actors vary depending on the country and state. In the United States, the federal minimum wage is currently set at $7.25 per hour as of 2021. However, certain states and cities have set their own minimum wage laws, which often exceed the federal minimum. For example, in California, the minimum wage is set at $14 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees, and $13 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees.

  • It’s important to note that unionized actors may have different minimum wage requirements, as outlined in their contracts with the respective union(s). Unions such as SAG-AFTRA have negotiated minimum pay rates for their members for various types of work, including theater, TV, and film. The specific pay rates can be found on the union’s website.
  • The minimum wage for actors is often determined by the type of work they are hired for. For example, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) minimum rates for background actors in the United States are currently set at $162 per day for film, and $89 per day for TV, as of 2021.
  • In certain circumstances, actors may be paid less than the lawful minimum wage. This is often the case with independent productions or low-budget projects. However, it’s important to note that these exceptions are rare and are subject to strict regulations.

Overall, it’s important for actors to know their rights when it comes to minimum wage laws. Actors should research the minimum wage requirements in their area, join a union if possible, and negotiate fair pay for their work.

State Minimum Wage
California $14 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees
$13 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees
New York $12.50 per hour for employers in New York City with 11 or more employees
$11.80 per hour for employers in New York City with 10 or fewer employees
$12.50 per hour for employers in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties
$11.80 per hour for employers outside of New York City and Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties

The table above shows the minimum wage requirements for California and New York, as of 2021. It’s important for actors to research the minimum wage requirements in their specific state or city to ensure they are being paid fairly for their work.

The difference in pay between film, TV, and stage actors

When it comes to pay, the acting industry can be very lucrative but also very inconsistent. The amount of money jobbing actors make can vary greatly depending on the type of acting they are doing. Below, we will discuss the difference in pay between film, TV, and stage actors.

  • Film actors: Actors in films tend to be some of the highest-paid in the industry. However, the pay can be extremely variable, with some actors securing multi-million dollar salaries for a single role, while others struggle to make ends meet. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the average salary for an actor starring in a Hollywood film is around $65,000-$75,000. Though, top Hollywood actors– like Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp– can earn much more.
  • TV actors: The pay for TV actors is a bit lower than for film actors, but it’s still a lucrative industry. TV actors can make anywhere from $20,000 to $1 million per episode depending on the show and their level of fame. The highest-paid TV actor in the world is currently Jim Parsons, who earned $1 million per episode for his final season on “The Big Bang Theory.”
  • Stage actors: Finally, the pay for stage actors is generally the lowest of the three. According to the Actors’ Equity Association, the minimum salary for a Broadway actor in a musical is currently $2,168 a week. However, most actors in stage productions will make much less than that.

It’s important to note that these salaries don’t include any residuals or other forms of income that actors may receive from their work. Overall, while the pay can be very good in the acting industry, it’s also highly variable and unpredictable.

Here’s a table that summarizes the differences in pay between the three types of actors:

Actor type Pay range
Film actors $65,000-$75,000 for an average actor (up to millions for top stars)
TV actors $20,000-$1 million per episode
Stage actors $2,168 minimum per week for Broadway actors (less for most stage productions)

Overall, while acting can be a highly rewarding career in terms of both artistic fulfillment and pay, it’s important for jobbing actors to be aware of the differences in pay between film, TV, and stage work. With this knowledge, they can make informed decisions about the types of jobs they pursue and what they need to do to negotiate fair compensation for their work.

How location affects an actor’s salary

When it comes to acting, location can play a significant role in determining an actor’s salary. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Industry demand – Certain locations have a stronger demand for actors due to the film and television industry being based there. Los Angeles and New York City are two prime examples of cities with a high demand for actors.
  • Cost of living – The cost of living in a particular area can also affect an actor’s salary. This is why actors in cities like Los Angeles and New York City tend to have higher salaries to keep up with the high cost of living.
  • Local film incentives – Some cities offer tax incentives and rebates to film productions that choose to shoot there. This means that actors in these cities may have a higher chance of getting work, and potentially a higher salary.

Besides these factors, location can also affect an actor’s salary in more specific ways. For example, an actor who is based in a rural area may not have access to as many auditions or opportunities as someone based in a larger city with a stronger industry presence.

Here’s a table showcasing the salaries of actors across different US cities:

City Average Salary
Los Angeles $61,663
New York City $61,415
Chicago $53,131
Atlanta $48,805
Miami $43,570

As you can see, actors in cities like Los Angeles and New York City tend to have higher salaries due to the higher cost of living and the strong demand for actors. It’s important to research the industry demand and cost of living in your desired location to determine your potential salary as an actor.

The Role of Unions in Setting Actor Pay

Unions play a vital role not only in protecting the rights of actors but also in setting fair compensation rates. Here are some ways in which unions influence pay structures in the acting industry:

  • Negotiating collective bargaining agreements (CBAs): Unions negotiate CBAs with production companies to establish minimum rates for actors’ services. These agreements cover various aspects such as wages, hours of work, working conditions, and health and retirement benefits.
  • Providing guidance on pay scales: Unions offer guidance on how much actors should be paid based on the production’s budget, scale, and scope. This helps to ensure that actors receive fair pay regardless of their level of fame or the size of their role.
  • Enforcing standards: Unions enforce standards that ensure actors are compensated according to the agreed-upon terms. This means that production companies cannot pay actors less than what is stipulated in the CBAs.

Collectively, unions serve as a watchdog for actors’ rights and interests. They have an established framework to handle grievances and ensure that actors receive what they are entitled to under their contracts.

Here’s a table that shows some current minimum pay rates for union actors:

Production Type Minimum Rates per Week
Broadway and National Tours $2,034
Network and Syndicated Television $1,209
Feature Films and Prime-time Dramatic Television $1,005
Voiceover and Commercial Work $999

It’s important to keep in mind that these rates are only minimums, and that actors can earn more based on their level of experience and the nature of the work they are doing. Nevertheless, these rates provide a baseline for calculating pay that is fair and equitable for all actors.

The future of actor compensation in a changing industry

As the entertainment industry continues to evolve and adapt to new technologies and market demands, the future of actor compensation remains uncertain. However, there are a few key trends that we can expect to see in the coming years.

  • Streamlined payment systems: With more productions being created for online platforms like Netflix and Amazon, the process of compensating actors is likely to become more automated and efficient.
  • Increased transparency: In response to growing public interest in the salaries of top earners in the industry, we can expect to see more actors advocating for greater transparency and fairness in compensation practices.
  • New revenue streams: As the industry continues to fragment and expand, actors may look to diversify their income by exploring new revenue streams, such as merchandise sales or product endorsements.

Of course, there are also challenges that actors will face in this changing landscape. One major concern is the rise of AI-powered virtual actors, which could potentially replace human performers altogether.

Another issue is the potential for actors to be replaced by cheaper labor from overseas. While some productions may opt for more affordable options, there is still a demand for skilled actors who can bring a level of authenticity and nuance to a performance that cannot be replicated.

Ultimately, the future of actor compensation will depend on how the industry evolves in the years to come. But regardless of the changes that lie ahead, there will always be a need for talented actors who can connect with audiences and bring characters to life on the screen.

Job title Median Annual Salary
Actor $53,000
Voice Actor $41,000
Theatre Actor $16,000
Background Actor/Extra $10,000

While the above salary figures are not indicative of actual scope and all actors, they serve as a benchmark of how actors can earn in the industry.

How Much Do Jobbing Actors Get Paid? FAQs

1. What is a jobbing actor?

Jobbing actors typically work on a freelance basis, taking on a variety of work including theatre productions, television shows, films and voiceover work. They are usually paid per project or performance, rather than receiving a regular salary.

2. How much can jobbing actors expect to earn?

Earnings for jobbing actors can vary greatly depending on the project and the individual’s experience and skill level. Some jobs may pay as little as a few hundred dollars, while others may offer much higher rates.

3. Are jobbing actors paid hourly or per project?

Jobbing actors are usually paid per project or performance rather than hourly. However, rehearsals and other preparation time may be paid on an hourly basis.

4. Do jobbing actors receive benefits such as healthcare or retirement plans?

As freelance workers, jobbing actors are typically not offered benefits such as healthcare or retirement plans by the companies or organizations that hire them.

5. Do jobbing actors have agents who negotiate their pay?

Many jobbing actors choose to work with agents who negotiate their pay and help them find work. Agents typically receive a commission on the actor’s earnings.

6. How do jobbing actors find work?

Jobbing actors may find work through auditions, online listings, networking events and referrals from agents.

7. Can jobbing actors make a living from acting?

While it is possible for jobbing actors to make a living from acting, it can be difficult and requires a lot of hard work, talent and dedication. Many jobbing actors have other jobs to supplement their income.

Closing Words

Thanks for taking the time to read about how much jobbing actors get paid. It’s important to remember that every actor’s experience is different and there’s no set salary for the profession. If you’re an aspiring actor, keep working hard and pursuing your passion! And if you’re a fan of the arts, don’t forget to support your local theatre and film productions. Thanks for reading and visit us again in the future.