What Do Actors And Actresses Make In America?

by May 17, 2017

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What does it matter that I’m more likely to be struck by lightning—twice—than to be cast in a blockbuster movie?

If you’re like me, you chose to pursue acting for the money.
Give me that yacht, that private island, that army of French bulldog puppies and the space to keep them. Acting just seems the easiest way to get rich fast, doesn’t it? All you need is to book a major franchise. (It can’t be that hard—Jennifer Lawrence did it more than once.) How else would I get rich in my twenties? Major in a STEM field? Invest in the stock market or something? Marry a billionaire? No. Starring in a major motion picture is the most sure-fire way to earn that cash. What does it matter that I’m more likely to be struck by lightning—twice—than to be cast in a blockbuster movie?*

Okay, I’m being dramatic. (Something I’ve never been accused of before.) Making money through acting is not actually as dire as you might think. However, please don’t look to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or Melissa McCarthy (in 2015 grossing 64.5 million and 33 million respectively) as career models—the odds of becoming one of Hollywood’s top-paid actors are just astronomical. However, it is possible to earn a livable wage by acting.
According to payscale.com, actors in the United States earn a median of about 50,000 dollars a year. Los Angeles actors are doing a bit better than the national average, earning a median yearly salary of about 70,500 dollars. The average New York City actor, on the other hand, earns less than 40,000. Of course, these numbers vary quite a lot depending on the actors’ experience, and especially depending on their location. If you’re an actor in LA, you have a good chance to make a decent living (if you can get the jobs over the thousands of other actors in LA who also want to make a decent living), but finding enough acting jobs in Podunk, Arkansippi might be harder.
The point is, there is hope in this field. You’ll have to work hard against a lot of other people who are also working hard, the rewards will be few and far between, and you will deal with mountains of rejection, but it is possible. And if anyone can do it, you can. No, not you. The other person reading this article. Yeah, you.

*This statistic was probably invented by the author. Don’t look it up.

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And if anyone can do it, you can.

Sources For This Article

“Actor/Actress Salary.” Payscale.com. http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Actor_%2F_Actress/Salary (16 May 2017).

“Highest-earning actors, actresses in Hollywood.” Newsday.com. http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/movies/highest-paid-actors-actresses-1.8615002 (16 May 2017).

“How Much Do Actors Get Paid?” 2017 Auditions Database. https://www.2017auditions.com/how- much-do-actors-get-paid/ (16 May 2017).

Photos From: https://unsplash.com/

1 Comment

  1. Kent

    I’d like to know what difference it makes to be a SAG actor as far as wage. Also, Bachelor degree and Masters. Are those full-time actors or part time, etc. Any wisdom Abbie? 🙂


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