The Playgoer: How much does an actor make?

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Friday, October 27, 2006

How much does an actor make?

Reading this interesting news of a payraise for English actors prompted me to finally go trolling around the American Equity website to see if the salary info from the standard contracts is easily accessible online. It is.

There are many, many different kinds of contracts--different regions, venue sizes, profit/nonprofit, etc. But here are the figures (the minimums) for just the three kinds of theatre presentations I myself end up seeing the most.

-Broadway: The generic sounding "Production Agreement" says $1465 a week.

-Commercial Off Broadway: Depends on the number of seats in the theatre.

$506 (100 - 199 seats)
$592 (200 - 250 seats)
$689 (251 - 299 seats)
$792 (300 - 350 seats)
$890 (351 - 499 seats)
-League of Resident Theatres (LORT)
The LORT theatres are basically our professional "regional theatres." But it also includes most of NYC's professional nonprofit companies (those not operating on "Showcase" code). I say "most" since the exceptions--Roundabout, Manhattan Theatre Company, and Lincoln Center Theatre--each have their own individual LORT riders(!) which are so byzantine I can't even get into them. Let's just say the actors at those places make closer to Broadway levels.

But as for the rest, here are salary minimums according to the LORT catagories of theatres, which is determined by average weekly ticket sales:
$816 LORT A ($110,000.00+)
$769 LORT B ($110,000.00+)
$714 LORT B ($70,000.00-$109,999.99)
$663 LORT C ($45,000.00 to $69,999.99)
$536 LORT D ($44,999.99 and below)
So, what do I conclude from all this? Not sure yet. But if you start multiplying these figures by 52--and then ask yourself how many actors work 52 weeks a year--you may learn something...


Nick said...

What is not so readily available at the Actors Equity website is the statistic that on average 85% of its members are unemployed on any given day.

Anonymous said...

The answer to your question, after taxes, is: Not much.

Which is sad.

Kevin Ashworth said...


Your idea is dead on, but is it accurate? I mean, is 85% a number you made up to make an excellent point and it well could be right or who knows if it's maybe even higher, or do you have proof of this stat?


Anonymous said...


I can tell you from personal experience that, scale-wise, stage managers (AEA also being their union) make more than actors, Off-Broadway.

At the $506 commercial Off-Broadway level, Stage Managers get about $100 more per week, or at least they did when I was acting OffBway in 2003 and my fiancee was stage managing.

Playgoer said...

For those interested in stage manager and other salaries, they are actually included on these Equity pages, so just follow the links. I just copied the actor figures.

Mark said...

The reason stage managers make more than actors is that they work more hours per week

Karl Miller said...

Before union dues and taxes, you can also lop another 10-20% off the gross for agent and/or manager commissions ... without which you wouldn't be considered for Broadway or off-Broadway parts (even those paying $500/wk).

Starting January 1, 2007, Equity is adding a $100 quarterly premium for anyone receiving health care through employment.