Actors’ salaries often vary widely from year to year. This actor’s annual pay and expenses were averaged from three years of figures provided (2019-2021). In 2019, she spent six months on disability while she underwent cancer treatment.
Annual salary, on average: Approximately $19,200 from a combination of acting jobs, residuals for prior acting work, stand-in work, unemployment benefits, yard sales and Craigslist sales, odd jobs (tutoring, dog walking, bookkeeping, taping other actors, recycling), SAG-AFTRA pension, SNAP food stamps, and grocery card gifts.
Interest and investment income: $2,553
Total expenses: $10,410
What’s left over: $8,829
Home expenses (property taxes, insurance, maintenance): $4,327
Groceries: $287. I go to the food bank every week, buying other items occasionally. When I work acting jobs, I sometimes get meals. I also have a garden for additional veggies, so my grocery bill is low.
Utilities: $2006. I receive low-income benefits on utility bills.
Dining out/fun: $98. Always use coupons!
Health insurance: $0. Medicare + Medi-Cal.
Healthcare not covered by insurance: $594. Chiropractic services, vision care, vitamins.
Car, gas: $1,300. Twenty-one-year-old car with no payments left — just gas, insurance, and maintenance.
Work expenses: $1,773. Union dues, agent commission, classes, gifts, headshots, printing, supplies, cell phone, trade subscriptions.
Debt repayment: $0. I pay off credit cards every month.
Comments: This actor works stand-in jobs on reality TV competition series such as “Dancing With the Stars” and “American Idol,” and in on-screen speaking roles mostly in film.
I live extremely frugally so I can save for retirement, and I also try to work as much as possible, doing any odd job that comes by. Some of the acting work is very difficult, and takes me several days to recover, especially the jobs that are 10-12 hours per day, or are “overnights.”
At my age, I am trying to save as much for retirement as possible, as my pensions are very little. I am waiting to collect Social Security until 72 so that it will be the highest payment available.
I just hope I don’t get dementia like my mother, since I have no one to care for me and not enough funds for a good nursing home.
My car is very old and will need replacing soon. Without unemployment, I don’t know how I would survive. The pandemic really took a big bite into my income, along with most of the country.
Most people don’t realize how much time actors put into their work. While the daily pay may be high, the audition time cuts into that. It usually takes me an average of three days to learn audition lines, then record myself and upload to casting.
With casting now asking actors to record their auditions, I spent about $300 on proper equipment to do so. I still have to find someone to read lines for the audition, and hope the neighbors aren’t mowing the lawn making noise.
It takes me six to eight auditions to finally book a job. That’s almost a month of work before even booking a job that pays.