Sydney Sweeney, one of many actors feeling Hollywood’s money crunch: consultant
- Sydney Sweeney told The Hollywood Reporter she couldn’t afford to take a break because “they don’t pay actors like they used to anymore.”
- An entertainment consultant told Insider that Sweeney faces many Hollywood actors today.
- “Number of [TV] the shows got dropped, the main actors in feature films started coming to TV and they started paying a lot less,” Kathryn Arnold said.
Sydney Sweeney insisted in a cover story published by The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday that she’s not making enough money as an Emmy-nominated actress to take a break from her acting career.
In fact, she says, she’s had to strike deals with brands to supplement her paychecks from popular streaming shows like “Euphoria” and “The White Lotus” in order to stay afloat in Hollywood.
“I have no one to support me, I have no one to turn to to pay my bills or call for help,” Sweeney told THR.
“They don’t pay actors anymore like they used to, and with streamers, you don’t get residuals anymore,” Sweeney continued.
“Established stars always get paid, but I have to give 5% to my lawyer, 10% to my agents, 3% or something to my business manager. I have to pay my publicist every month, and that is more than my mortgage.”
Kathryn Arnold, producer and entertainment consultantsaid what Sweeney is facing is true for many Hollywood actors now.
It all dates back to the early 2000s, when reality television was making a splash in the entertainment forefront with shows like “The Bachelor” and “Survivor,” she said.
Arnold said about a third of scripted television disappeared when these shows started entering the arena, instantly putting many television actors out of work.
“It wiped out the careers of many working actors,” Arnold told Insider.
Before reality TV took over the airwaves, Arnold explained that any actor who worked for an arc on a popular show would earn between $20,000 and $30,000 per episode, and arcs could last two to three episodes. up to ten episodes.
“It’s a money-maker. If you make a few a year, you’re making a living,” Arnold said.
Arnold said many major movie actors — like Glenn Close and Julia Roberts — have also moved into television, pushing working actors out of roles.
Around the same time, budget cuts on major networks began, lowering the salary of active actors to around $6,000 – or worse, installment payments – per episode, presumably to compete with streamers entering the scene who were spending a lot of money on each original series.
“The number of shows dropped, the major feature film actors started coming to TV, and they started paying a lot less,” Arnold said.
Suddenly, actors who were earning between $300,000 and $500,000 a year faced major pay cuts.
In 2006, unless as an active actor you were really successful with a show, you were potentially overlooked.
Enter: streaming services.
In the beginning, streaming services offered high payouts per episode to major players to get attention on new platforms. But as time passes and streaming services gain popularity, they no longer have to pay what they once paid.
And streaming services don’t offer residuals for their episodes, Arnold said. This is because the network does not have to turn around and sell a series to an international network or other US networks to air reruns.
“Streamers are evergreen,” Arnold said. “Everything is internal.”
For feature films, Arnold explained, studios focus on “flagship films” and only want “proven names” to champion their projects, closing the door on lesser-known actors.
“There are a lot of people who are one-hit wonders,” Arnold said of the actors who didn’t make a splash.