Many working actors earn residual paychecks anytime that a TV show they appeared on air in reruns.
“Ours is a fickle industry and in my 20+ years of being a performer, my career has ebbed and flowed,” Moore, who has been acting since she was a teenager, wrote via Instagram in July 2023. “I’ve had very lean years where I couldn’t get a job and those are precisely the moments when in years past, actors could rely on residuals from their past work to help them get by.”
Many actors have since seen their residual check amounts dwindle with the onset of streaming platforms. Due to the staggeringly low amounts, members of the SAG-AFTRA acting union called out the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) for refusing to compromise on better terms regarding residual checks during contract negotiations. As a result, the SAG actors went on strike in July 2023 shortly after the Writers Guild of America stood up for similar causes.
Keep reading to find out how much the stars really make in residuals:
Moore has received 81-cent checks for streaming residuals of This Is Us, the Emmy-winning drama that she starred in between 2016 and 2022. “I was talking with my business manager who said he’s received a residual for a penny and two pennies,” she told The Hollywood Reporter on the picket lines in July 2023.
The Lizzie McGuire alum — who played Hilary Duff’s onscreen father on the Disney Channel series — once received a residual check in August 2019 for $0. While Carradine did not reveal what program the check was for, it had been sent by Walt Disney Pictures. (In addition to Lizzie, Carradine has starred in several other Disney projects.)
Carradine’s Lizzie McGuire costars have also seen similarly low residuals. Davida Williams, who played cheerleader Claire Miller, revealed on her Lizzie McGuire recap podcast in March 2023 that she usually gets a sum of $3.50 or less.
“It used to be, like, you’d have to take this huge stack of checks every month for residuals over to the bank and deposit them,” Jake Thomas (a.k.a. Lizzie’s little brother Matt) chimed in at the time. “But the huge stack would be like, ‘Oh, this is a massive stack. This is $8.’”
Sampson, who starred as Nathan on HBO’s Insecure between 2018 and 2021, received 56 residual checks in July 2023. However, they only totaled $86, which was not enough to cover his monthly bills, which he shared on Instagram.
William Stanford Davis
Davis, who is known for his role as Mr. Johnson on ABC’s Abbott Elementary, revealed via Instagram in July 2023 that he once got a check for 5 cents. “The postage, the paper, everything costs more than that. That’s what they think of us as actors,” he said at the time. “This is why we’re on strike for better wages, for better residuals [and] for a piece of the subscription.”
Marie shared a copy of her paystubs via TikTok in July 2023, noting she’s gotten between 3 cents and 74 cents in residuals for repeat viewings of Freeform’s Switched at Birth. (Marie was one of the main characters on the show for five years, even sustaining an injury from excessive American Sign Language use.)
“To fans of my character Bev on Reservation Dogs, here’s a peek behind the IHS counter at what part of my residuals looks like for acting on a show that I love,” Schmieding tweeted in July 2023. “I pull in $.03 each quarter for UNLIMITED worldwide streams on fx/hulu/DISNEY.”
Evans, who is best known for her role as Mercedes Woodine on P-Valley, got three residual checks in July 2023 for $3.99, $4.67 and 1 cent, respectively.
Grammer, who played Lissa Miller on MTV’s Awkward, primarily gets her residual checks for episodes of the five-season sitcom. In August 2023, she opened up a handful of paystubs via TikTok.
“Awkward, ‘Are You there God, It’s Me, Jenna.’ Total gross: .80 cents. Oh, actually that’s what this [paystub] says but the check is actually for .50 cents,” she said, before revealing additional checks for $.63, $.60, $.30 and $.68.
“I’m not trying to get any sympathy, this is the truth of it, my residual checks were six cents,” Porter told the U.K.’s Evening Standard in August 2023 of reruns for his FX series, Pose. “I’m still an artist and artists are still freelance workers. So Pose has been over now since 2021, I don’t get no more money from that.”
He added: “I’m supposed to, which is why we’re striking. I’m supposed to be getting money from that, but I ain’t.”
“I don’t get a piece from Netflix on Breaking Bad to be totally honest and that’s insane to me,” Paul said while on the picket line in September 2023. “I think a lot of these streamers know that they have been getting away with not paying people a fair wage and now it’s time to pony up.”