By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published
Today, the SAG-AFTRA made history by joining the Writers Guild of America (WGA) on strike in the first tandem strike since 1960. This is a strike that has been a long time coming since actors and writers for television have been drawing the short stick for many years now. According to The Hollywood Reporter, actors on streaming services have been getting paid an embarrassingly low amount since Netflix first went online, with Orange is the New Black stars now revealing they were paid the “absolute bare minimum” SAG rate for the hit series.
As Netflix CEO Serandos’ salary continues to climb (he’s currently at $50 million annually), Orange Is the New Black stars celebrated the series’ 10th anniversary by shining a light on just how much the talent behind the hit dramedy actually made.
Orange Is the New Black was one of the first shows Netflix ever produced after the company decided to switch from a DVD mailer service to an online streaming platform. It’s because of this series that Netflix has become the streaming powerhouse that it is today. Something CEO Ted Sarandos doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge beyond publishing a few PR-friendly social media posts.
As Serandos’ salary continues to climb (he’s currently at $50 million annually), Orange Is The New Black stars celebrated the series’ 10th anniversary by shining a light on just how much the talent behind the hit dramedy actually made. Ten recurring stars of OITNB, including Kimiko Glenn, Alysia Reiner, Beth Dover, Emma Myles, Diane Guerrero, Taryn Manning, and Lea DeLaria, revealed that they were initially paid the “absolute bare minimum” SAG day rate, which was less than $1,000 per episode.
Despite the show’s immense popularity on Netflix and nearly 20 Emmy Award nominations (with four wins), many of the cast members had to maintain day jobs throughout the series’ run, and some even lost money being on the show.
As board members of production companies like Netflix continue to rake in the financial benefits years after a series has concluded, the actors on Orange is the New Black stated that they couldn’t count on residuals from the hit series, with one actor stating they made only around $20 in residuals for the year.
Many of the cast members had to maintain day jobs throughout the series’ run, and some even lost money being on the show.
These revelations come amidst the ongoing negotiations between SAG-AFTRA, WAG, and the executives of the most prominent Hollywood studios, who have said that they are planning to wait for the writers and actors to start losing their apartments before returning to negotiations, according to Deadline.
The cast members of Orange is the New Black expressed disappointment that despite the show’s massive success, their financial situations did not improve as expected. Emma Myles, who played inmate Leanne Taylor for six of the seven seasons, reflected on the disparity between her childhood dreams of wealth and the reality of her living conditions in a one-bedroom apartment without a bathtub.
Actors on Orange is the New Black stated that they couldn’t count on residuals from the hit series, with one actor stating they made only around $20 in residuals for the year.
They questioned why their friends on network shows were earning significant wealth while those working for Netflix struggled to make ends meet.
According to the New Yorker, Orange is the New Black regulars eventually earned up to $200,000 per episode, while the supporting cast members made no more than $15,000. The actors criticized Netflix for boasting about its increasing profits to shareholders while the cast members themselves received minimal compensation.