The pay scale for a working actor on stage or screen may not be as high as you think. Only major box office draws are able to secure the million dollar salaries that become synonymous with the term "movie star." The starting salary for a working actor can be much lower, with sporadic pay.
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Theatre and Performing Arts Companies
The starting salary for an actor working with a theatre company depends on his level of experience and the role he is playing. Usually, the larger the role, the higher the rate of pay. Theatre performers are usually required to obtain an Actor's Equity union card before accepting paying roles. Actors earn union status through approved roles in theatre companies across the country. The process of becoming a union member can be as quick as one lead role or several smaller parts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean hourly wage for actors in performing arts companies was £13.70.
Acting on Broadway is often seen as the pinnacle of a performing arts career for many aspiring actors, dancers and singers. But the reality of a Broadway actor's pay scale may be just one of many sobering facts about living in New York City. According to the New York Magazine website, the minimum weekly salary of a Broadway actor in 2010 was £789. An off-Broadway actor earned as little as £286 to £495 per week in that same year. However, a Broadway actor is rarely able to work the entire year.
An actor working in conjunction with a film studio or director may enjoy more steady employment. The starting salary for an actor in the motion picture industry is determined by the size of the role played and the budget assigned for the particular picture. According to the job placement website Simply Hired, the average starting salary for a film actor is £33,800.
An actor working outside of a film studio or the major motion picture industry may enjoy a greater variety of work and the freedom to choose more controversial projects. The pay can also be lower because funding for these projects tends to limit available funds to pay performers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an actor working on an independent film can expect to earn an average hourly wage of £25.5. A mean annual salary is not available because work was too sporadic to get a reliable dollar figure.
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