11 Ugly Truths About Pay in the Entertainment Industry

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Men and women in the TV industry are anonymously revealing their salaries and the results are alarming. In an effort to uncover pay inequities, people in the multi-million dollar industry began circulating a Google document where they could record their pay, as well as their gender and racial identification without revealing their names.

The document comes on the heels of recent news about pay inequality in the entertainment industry, including the revelation from earlier this year that Michelle Williams received only $1,000 to re-shoot scenes from the film “All the Money in the World,” while her costar Mark Wahlberg received $1.5 million.

Click through to see how much men make versus women and other ugly truths about pay in the entertainment industry.


Men Are Sometimes Paid Thousands More Per Episode Than Women

At the time of writing, of the top 10 people on the doc who earn the most per episode, eight are male and two are female, as found in a GOBankingRates analysis of the anonymous Google document . The top earner is reportedly a male producer at FX, who stated he got paid $175,000 for one episode. The lowest earner on a producer level is a female freelancer at Urban Movie Channel, who said she earned $2,000 per episode, which means the male producer at FX was making 88 times more than this female freelancer.

There were smaller inequalities between male and female employees who work at the same network as well. For example, a male co-EP at CBS stated that he earned $30,000 per episode, while a female co-EP at the same network said she was earning only $20,500 per episode


People of Color Are Alarmingly Underrepresented Among Top Earners

Of the top 10 television network employees who reported their earnings in the Google document and are paid per episode — including producers, writers, story editors and more — only two self-identified as a person of color.

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Women Make Up a Majority of the Lowest-Paid TV Network Employees

Of the 10 lowest-paid weekly earners on the Google document, nine are female. The lowest-paid person is a female office assistant who earns $720 per week, which would end up around $37,440 for the year.

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Even TV’s Leading Ladies Aren’t Immune to the Gender Pay Gap

Ellen Pompeo just became one of the richest actresses in the industry — with a salary of $20 million, she’s the highest-paid actress on a prime-time TV drama. However, it wasn’t too long ago that she was fighting for better pay than co-star Patrick Dempsey, as she was the lead on “Grey’s Anatomy,” but got shut down by network executives.

“At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and I’m Meredith Grey,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “They wouldn’t give it to me.”

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The Gender Pay Gap Doesn’t Discriminate Against Award Winners

When Kevin Spacey was removed from the film “All the Money in the World” in November 2017 after sexual misconduct allegations, Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg ― the stars of the movie ― agreed to reshoot scenes they had with Spacey with his replacement, Christopher Plummer.

USA Today reported Wahlberg earned $1.5 million for the re-shoots, while Williams earned only an $80 per diem fee that amounted to less than $1,000 in all.

After the news broke, Wahlberg pledged to donate his $1.5 million paycheck to #TimesUp, the legal fund for sexual abuse and harassment victims, in Williams’ name, Deadline reported.

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There’s Also a Racial Pay Gap Among TV Actors

In June 2017, “Hawaii Five-0” stars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park announced they would be leaving the cast after failed salary negotiations. It’s believed the actors, both of Korean descent, were offered 10 to 15 percent less than their white co-stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, Variety reported.

“Though I made myself available to come back, CBS and I weren’t able to agree to terms on a new contract, so I made the difficult choice not to continue,” Dae Kim wrote in a Facebook post, also adding, “the path to equality is rarely easy.”

As reported by Entertainment Weekly, CBS released the following statement: “Daniel and Grace have been important and valued members of ‘Hawaii Five-0’ for seven seasons. We did not want to lose them and tried very hard to keep them with offers for large and significant salary increases. While we could not reach an agreement, we part ways with tremendous respect…”

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The Top Female Director Makes Millions Less Than the Top Male Director

Patty Jenkins earned $1 million to direct “Wonder Woman,” which has grossed $821 million worldwide since it opened in the summer of 2017. But thanks to the movie’s popularity, she’ll be making $8 million to $9 million to direct the sequel, making her the highest-paid female director of all time, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

However, she’s still not making as much as the top-earning male director. Ridley Scott received $10 million to $12 million up front to direct “Alien: Covenant,” THR reported. For comparison, “Alien: Covenant” has made $240 million worldwide since it opened in May 2017.

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Not All TV Hosts Make Serious Bank

Although Pat Sajak makes $15 million a season to host “Wheel of Fortune,” non-famous hosts on the Travel Channel earn significantly less — about $40,000 per episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Speaking of Rich TV Hosts: Ryan Seacrest’s Millions Keep Mounting with ‘Live’ Co-Host Spot

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Male TV Hosts Can Earn Double What Female Hosts Make

In December 2017, Catt Sadler left her hosting gig at E! because she was reportedly not being paid the same as her male co-host, Jason Kennedy. Sadler was earning $600,000 per year, while her “E! News” co-host Kennedy made $1 million to $1.2 million per year, Us Weekly reported.

“How can I operate with integrity and stay on at E if they’re not willing to pay me the same as him? Or at least come close?” she wrote on her personal blog. “How can I accept an offer that shows they do not value my contributions and paralleled dedication all these years? How can I not echo the actions of my heroes and stand for what is right no matter what the cost? How can I remain silent when my rights under the law have been violated?”

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Makeup Artists and Assistants Make 40% Less Than the U.S. Median

The national median pay for a personal assistant working in the television industry is $32,100, and the national median pay for a makeup artist is $35,800, Money reported. The median household income in the U.S. is $59,039.

Meanwhile, the top-paying TV jobs pay almost three times as much. A production director earns an average of $97,600, and an executive producer makes $92,600, also according to Money.


Production Assistants Often Work Around the Clock for Little Pay

Working on a film or TV set can be a great foot-in-the-door for production assistants who want to make it in the entertainment industry, but the job might not be what you expect.

The average salary for a production assistant is $14 an hour, according to PayScale. However, many end up working for a per diem fee, Refinery29 reported. According to the site, many production assistants end up working around the clock, earning only $100 to $300 per day.

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