Your favorite television shows wouldn’t be the same without the actors and actresses who brilliantly bring their characters to life. These talented professionals work hard to tell a captivating story — and many earn massive paychecks for their efforts.
This isn’t surprising, as top actors and actresses draw in viewers. Plus, the last thing a network wants is to lose a star of a hit show due to a pay discrepancy.
Of course, larger-than-life paydays aren’t the only benefit of being a television star. Those who deliver critically acclaimed performances are often recognized with career-enhancing awards.
The 73rd Emmy Awards falls on Sept. 19, 2021, with the nominations on July 13. In honor of the kickoff of Emmy season, here’s a look at some of the highest-paid streaming and cable TV stars right now.
“Flight Attendant” star Kaley Cuoco captivated viewers as Cassie Bowden during the show’s first season. In fact, the show was so popular HBO Max has renewed it for a second season.
Cuoco’s “Flight Attendant” earnings haven’t been revealed, but it’s likely quite impressive. She previously played Penny on long-running sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” where her salary peaked at $1 million per episode.
While not likely, it’s possible Cuoco’s “Flight Attendant” salary is on par with her pay from “The Big Bang Theory.” Either way, her star power likely allows her to continue demanding seriously hefty paychecks.
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Sterling K. Brown
Starring as Randall Pearson on “This Is Us” has made Sterling K. Brown a household name — and a seriously well-paid one. He earns $250,000 per episode for his work on the NBC drama, according to Variety.
An Emmy favorite, he’s been nominated for outstanding lead actor in a drama series four times for his work on “This Is Us” — with one win in 2017. In 2021, NBC announced the series will end after its sixth season.
Iconic actor Ted Danson took on a new role this year as Neil Bremer, the star of “Mr. Mayor.” Created by Tina Fey, Robert Carlock and Universal Television, the popular NBC series, which also streams on Hulu, has been renewed for a second season.
Danson’s “Mr. Mayor” salary hasn’t been made public, but it’s almost definitely in the six figures. He earned an estimated $225,000 per episode for his starring role on “The Good Place,” according to Variety, which ended in 2020.
Previously, he earned more than $200,000 per episode for “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” according to a 2013 Deadline report.
Starring as June Osborne on “The Handmaid’s Tale” has been a notably lucrative role for Elizabeth Moss. She earns $1 million per episode for her work on the drama series, according to Variety.
She’s won an Emmy for her work on the series — outstanding lead actress in a drama series — in 2017. Based on Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name, Hulu has renewed the series for a fifth season.
A star on “Black-ish” since 2014, Anthony Anderson plays Andre ‘Dre’ Johnson on the hit comedy series. A notably lucrative gig, he currently earns $400,000 per episode, according to Celebrity Net Worth, for the show that also streams on Hulu.
Seriously impressive, Anderson has received six Emmy nominations for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series for his work on “Black-ish.” In 2021, ABC renewed the series for its eighth and final season.
He’s also made several appearances on the series’ two spinoffs — “Mixed-ish” and “Grown-ish.”
Tracee Ellis Ross
Since 2014, Tracee Ellis Ross has starred as Rainbow Johnson on “Black-ish,” which also streams on Hulu. She earns $200,000 per episode for her work on the series, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Ross is a four-time Emmy nominee for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series for her portrayal of Johnson on “Black-ish.” She’s also appeared in three dozen episodes of “Mixed-ish” and an episode of “Grown-ish.
Not her first major role, Ross previously starred as Joan Clayton on the television series “Girlfriends” from 2000-2008.
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He got his big break on “Saturday Night Live,” and Jason Sudeikis has returned to television as the title character on “Ted Lasso.” The wildly popular Apple TV+ show was renewed for a third season, before production was even underway on its second season.
Sudeikis’ “Ted Lasso” salary hasn’t been revealed, but it could be in the seven figures — per episode. Fellow A-listers Jennifer Aniston — his co-star in the 2013 film “We’re the Millers — and Reese Witherspoon earn $2 million per episode for their Apple TV+ series “The Morning Show,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Therefore, it’s not wild to assume he’s also bringing home a notably large paycheck.
Iconic actor Paul Reiser joined the cast of “The Kominsky Method” in the show’s second season, playing the role of Martin. His salary is unknown, but is probably six figures per episode, as he likely earned $350,000 per episode for the “Mad About You” reboot, according to Variety.
No stranger to Emmy nods, he scored six actor nominations during his original tenure on “Mad About You,” for his portrayal of Paul Buchman. In 2020, Netflix renewed “The Kominsky Method” for its third and final season.
On “The Mosquito Coast,” Justin Theroux stars as Allie Fox. In June 2021, Apple TV+ renewed the series for a second season.
His salary hasn’t been made public, but he previously earned $75,000 for his starring role on “The Leftovers,” according to Celebrity Net Worth. Therefore, it’s likely he earns at least this much for his work on “The Mosquito Coast” — if not more.
The busy actor also recently starred in the Hulu film “False Positive” and will star in the upcoming HBO miniseries “The White House Plumbers.”
Busy actor Matthew Rhys captivated audiences with his work as the title character in “Perry Mason.” In 2021, he was nominated for a Golden Globe for his work on the drama, which HBO has renewed for a second season.
His “Perry Mason” salary is believed to be around $100,000 per episode. He won the Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a drama series in 2018 for his portrayal of Philip Jennings on the FX series “The Americans.”
A relative newcomer, Michaela Coel scored a massive hit with the HBO series “I May Destroy You,” which she both created and starred in. Unfortunately for fans, she has confirmed the show definitely won’t return for a second season.
In a 2020 interview with Vulture, Coel revealed Netflix offered her $1 million upfront for the rights to “I May Destroy You.” However, she ultimately turned it down when her request to obtain a small percentage of the copyright was rejected.
While it’s unknown how much her HBO deal was worth, it’s pretty easy to assume it was a healthy offer.
He’s spent most of his career gracing the silver screen in romantic comedies, but Hugh Grant took a detour to star in the HBO miniseries “The Undoing.” The British actor’s critically-acclaimed performance on the show scored him a Golden Globe nomination in 2021.
Grant’s salary for “The Undoing” was not publicly revealed. However, his co-star Nicole Kidman earned $1 million per episode, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Given that they’re both seriously accomplished A-listers, it seems likely his pay was on par with hers.
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The seriously talented Lin-Manuel Miranda is best known as the creator of the wildly popular musical “Hamilton.” He also starred in the 2020 film adaptation — and scored a Golden Globe nomination — which Disney acquired the rights to for $75 million, according to Forbes.
It’s been a busy 2021 for Miranda, as he starred in the film “In the Heights” — based on the musical he created — and voiced the title role in “Vivo.” He also lent his voice to the television series “We the People” and “DuckTales.”
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William H. Macy
For 11 seasons, William H. Macy played the role of Frank Gallagher on the Showtime series “Shameless.” The hit show came to an end in April 2021.
Macy earned $350,000 per episode for his work on the comedy series, according to Variety. Over the years, he received five Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nods for his work on “Shameless.”
Next up, Macy will star in the new Hulu series “The Dropout.”
He’s best known for his work as Walter White on the wildly popular show “Breaking Bad,” but more recently, Bryan Cranston was Michael Desiato on the Showtime limited series “Your Honor.” He received a Golden Globe nomination for his work on the show.
Cranston was paid $700,000 per episode for his work on “Your Honor,” according to Variety. Next up, he’s slated to star in the upcoming films “Argylle” and “Jerry and Marge Go Large”
Comedian Ray Romano wowed fans yet again with his portrayal of Herbert in “Made for Love.” The HBO series was renewed for a second season in June 2021.
His “Made for Love” salary hasn’t been publicly revealed, but Romano likely doesn’t come cheap. In 2003, he made headlines for negotiating a $50 million payday for the eighth season of his iconic sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond,” according to E! Online. While he’s almost definitely not earning anything near that number, he has the star power to command a hefty paycheck.
The seriously talented Allison Janney starred as Bonnie on the long-running comedy series “Mom.” However, the CBS show that also streamed on Hulu came to an end in May 2021, after eight seasons on the air.
Janney earned $350,000 per episode for her work on “Mom,” according to Variety. She also scored five Emmy nominations with two wins for her contributions to the show.
Next up, the busy actress is slated to star in the upcoming films “To Leslie,” “Lou,” “The People We Hate at the Wedding” and “The Heart.”
Legendary actor Laurence Fishburne has played the role of Pops on “Black-ish” since 2014. He earns $200,000 per episode for his work on the show — as both an actor and an executive producer — according to Celebrity Net Worth.
While “Black-ish” is ending after its eighth season on ABC, Fishburne might have a new, yet very familiar, project on his hands. In September 2020, The Hollywood Reporter revealed the “ish” franchise might be adding the spinoff “Old-ish” to the mix, which would have Fishburne and Jenifer Lewis reprise their roles as Dre’s parents.
In the ’80s and ’90s, fans adored Laurie Metcalf as Jackie Harris — i.e., Aunt Jackie — on “Roseanne,” so it’s no surprise she continues to charm in her reprised role on “The Conners,” which you can also stream on Hulu. In May 2021, ABC revealed the sitcom has been renewed for a fourth season.
Metcalf earns $375,000 per episode for her work on “The Conners,” according to Variety. She previously scored three Emmy wins from five nominations for her work as Jackie on “Roseanne.”
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Relative newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy captivated audiences with her performance as Beth Harmon in “The Queen’s Gambit.” Netflix hasn’t announced a second season of the show, and it’s actually unlikely, since it’s categorized as a limited series.
Taylor-Joy earned around $39,049 per episode (once converted to U.S. dollars) — $273,346 for the entire season — of “The Queen’s Gambit.” She also won a Golden Globe for her work on the show.
Now a seriously in-demand actress, Taylor-Joy has many upcoming projects on her plate, including the films “Last Night in Soho,” “The Northman,” “Furiosa,” “The Menu” and “Laughter in the Dark.”
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