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How Much Money do Child Actors Make?

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united_states_dollar_falling_400_clr_5164 How Much Money do Child Actors Make? How Much Money do Child Actors Make? united states dollar falling 400 clr 5164 I promise, by the end of this response, you will have concrete answers to this question and I will not continue to be vague but let me start by saying, I cannot disclose what my children have been paid for their work. We sign contracts promising to keep such details confidential. Prior to my personal experience with things like this I, as many do, assumed all actors including children were millionaires. When I saw a child on the big screen I thought they’d “made it” and were set for life. When people said you have to choose this career because you love it I assumed it was because so few experience real achievement not that those who were actually cast in television and film had a long journey to any significant financial reward.  One may assume royalties equate to big payouts for life but that too is rare. Another variable when discussing actors’ pay is what one considers “a lot” of money is relative to their own life experiences.

BryantPrince_On-Set How Much Money do Child Actors Make? How Much Money do Child Actors Make? BryantPrince On SetI think the misconception that an actors’ big break means big dollars is a plus for Hollywood. It can help to feed the frenzy of the glitz and glamour of the red carpet. Don’t mistake me, the red carpet is a blast but in some ways it is a mirage. All who walk it are not rich and famous in fact, a small fraction is. The few that are the highlight of the red carpet feed the press and help create this fantasy of fortune and fame that the masses are drawn to. This is not a negative thing. It’s a great deal of fun and so much good can come from a mantel like Hollywood.

What do actors get paid? A Q or Quotient Score is the recognized industry standard for measuring consumer appeal of personalities, characters, licensed properties, programs and brands. It takes the romance out of it but actors are in many ways a brand. As with branding, Q scores can help measure an actor’s familiarity and favorability, two factors that greatly determine an actors on screen value. Although an actor’s Q score may not be specifically discussed in contract negotiations, if they are expected to headline a feature, how recognizable and well liked they are most likely is considered. As an actor gets more and more work under their belt and subsequently builds their familiarity to a consumer base, the monetary value of the actor goes up.

Very few child actors are recognizable and favorable enough to carry a film or television program to a broad demographic so it is rare that children are paid what famous adult actors are paid.  Until they contribute to the reason a fan base goes to see a film or tunes into a favorite television program it’s likely they will be paid SAG-AFTRA minimums or the minimum pay required by the actors’ union.

The Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAGAFTRA) is an American labor union representing over 160,000 film and television principal and background performers, journalists, and radio personalities worldwide. I’ve attached a link to a chart with the current contracted minimum pay for performers doing SAG/AFTRA contracted work.

Click for minimum pay SAG/AFTRA chart

Before you get too excited about minimum pay, let me briefly explain that agents and managers are deservedly paid a percentage of the actor’s gross pay. This is a combined total of approximately 20%. More if the actor has a publicist. The work is seldom steady. Children are highly taxed as they can rarely claim themselves furthermore their allowable deductions are few. Children are required to put 15% of their earnings into a Coogan Trust that they can access once they reach adulthood. While this forced savings is wonderful and prevents a child’s hard earned assets to wither away on the many expenses a child actor has, the interest rate trusts like these earn is criminal.

Needless to say, if you or your child is considering a career in acting be certain you are passionate about the work. The sacrifice is too great and the initial net payout is too small to do this work if you don’t love it. In the end the financial pay off may or may not come but if you yearn for the work then the rewards of the heart are far-reaching.

2 Comments

  1. Derek Hiemforth says:

    Very interesting stuff…thanks, Melanie! 🙂

  2. Patricia Potts says:

    I have seen Bryant in three movies and I think he adds credibility to the characters he plays,I hope he will enjoy being an actor as he grows up as much as I enjoy watching him.

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