How Much Do TV Actors Make?

Unless your name is Ryan Gosling or Lupita Nyong’o, most of the work you do will be on episodic television. Why? Because there’s a ton of it out there, and those shows need a constant supply of actors. Co-stars are considered “minor characters” who don’t have arcs (a storyline which runs across several episodes) and their functions are superficial. Think of the uniformed cops at the start of every Law & Order episode. Those are co-stars. Sometimes they work one day, sometimes more. Co-stars are hired on a daily contract and paid scale ($1,005) plus 10% for the day. Guest stars are characters who service the plot while interacting with the leads. Their parts can normally be filmed in a day, and most guest stars are paid $3,000 a day for their work. Stars, or regular cast members, are paid anywhere from $20,000 to $35,000 per episode. The top earner has been Modern Family star Sofia Vergara, who earned a whopping $42.5 million for her role on the show. Second place honors go to Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons at $26.5 million, and third place honors go to Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo for earning a nice $23.5 million.