What Is the Average Pay for a Broadway Actor?

All Broadway producers are under contract with the Actor’s Equity Association, the labor union for stage actors and stage managers. The AEA negotiates the terms and conditions of employment for Broadway stage actors including setting the minimum pay requirements. Actor’s agents can negotiate higher salaries for their clients, but generally actors in non-principal roles who don’t have an established name are paid the union-negotiated minimum, which is referred to as “working for scale.” Specific or negotiated salaries for rank-and-file Equity actors are kept confidential by the AEA.

  1. Scale

    • A full-time Broadway actor working the entire year makes about $80,000.
      A full-time Broadway actor working the entire year makes about $80,000.

      As of 2011, scale for Broadway theater productions is $1,605 per week. There are other AEA rules that put Equity actors at an advantage in the casting process. When casting a Broadway production, directors and producers are required to audition non-principal performers in an open casting call, meaning actors are auditioned without the need for an appointment. Non-principal actors must be hired before principal actors (except for the star), and Equity actors must be auditioned first.

    Above-the-Title

    • Stars of Broadway shows whose names appear above the title on the marquee, called “above-the-title" stars, command big salaries. Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane made over $100,000 per week during the 2001 to 2007 run of “The Producers.” Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig in the 12-week run of “A Steady Rain” in 2011 were both paid $40,000 per week plus a percentage of the box office sales, which put them over $100,000 per week as well. Julia Roberts in “Three Days of Rain” made $150,000 per week for 12 weeks in 2006.

    Musicals

    • Actors in Broadway musicals have a bit more negotiating room. Members of the chorus generally make the minimum, however, it is not unusual for those with significant experience to be paid more. There is a ranking within chorus members; dance captains are paid scale plus $300 per week, and assistant dance captains are paid scale plus $150 per week.

    Understudies

    • A single actor can serve as an understudy for one or more parts. For every part an actor understudies, she is paid an extra $33 per week. The formula gets a bit more complicated if the actor ends up actually playing the role she is understudying. The actor receives her weekly salary plus the $33 understudying fee plus one-eighth of the total for each performance she plays the role. For example, if the understudy is paid scale, she will get $1,605 plus $33, or $1,638. If she plays the part for which she is understudying in one performance, then she will be paid an extra $204.75 for a total of $1,842.75 for that week (one-eighth of $1,638 plus her base pay).

    Additional Benefits

    • In addition to salary, Broadway producers contribute to Equity actors’ AEA pension and 401k during the weeks they are performing. Equity actors are also eligible for healthcare insurance while they are working. Coverage continues after the play ends, depending upon how much the actor has worked during the year.

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References

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