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What Can You Expect to Make in Television?

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You may be wondering what a paycheck looks like when you pursue a career in television, particularly for all of the roles that support hosts or series regulars – and there are many.  The type of role you land will determine the amount you’re paid for the gig.  And, this typically coincides with how long you’re on camera, how many lines you have, how many scenes you’re in, etc.  Here’s the general breakdown, according to Backstage.

Co-Stars. Co-stars are relatively minor characters in a television production.  Sometimes they’re just involved in a scene or two.  They can work one day or a few more.  They do not have recurring roles.  Rather, they are hired on a daily basis and the pay is typically $1,000 for that day with room to negotiate.  If you are hired for two non-consecutive days, such as a Tuesday and Thursday with a “hold” day in-between, you will also get paid to be “on hold.”

One Day Guest Stars. These are the character who contribute to the story’s plot in a meaningful way by interacting with the production’s lead characters.  However, they are hired for just a day, too.  The pay is negotiable, but usually runs between $1,500-$3,000 per appearance.

Guest Stars. These individuals play a pivotal role and are hired for an entire episode.  Typically, the character will make a debut, return later on, and end up in a recurring role.  As a guest star, you can command the highest price paid to a guest, which is normally $5,400 for comedies and $8,600 for drama.

Series Regular. Of course, you can always shoot for the moon!  If you’re looking to take the lead and get cast in a prominent role, you make be looking at between $20,000 and $35,000 per episode depending on how well-known you are in the industry.  These characters are an integral piece of the plot and the roles are typically reserved for experienced actors.  However, there’s nothing to say that you can’t get in with limited credits if you’re the best person for the part.

Rates vary between networks and shows and the platform in which the show will air (i.e., on regular television, cable T.V., streaming online, on YouTube or Spotify, and the many other options).  Having someone by your side to negotiate on your behalf is a great way to ensure you get the best offer.  Make sure you take a look at the fine print and all of the details of a contract before you sign. 

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