- 12 Dec 2021
Whenever I interview a child in my office, I end the session by inviting the parents to chat. I evaluate the child and briefly describe agency as we decide whether we are a good fit to work together. I end by asking the parents if they have any questions. Money comes every now and then. I can tell a lot about the motivations of parents by how they ask and how quickly it is picked up in the conversation. If their initial question is, "How much can my child earn?" After that, "Who gets to spend it?" I'm pretty sure I'm not interested in their child. Money should not be a motivator.
On the other hand, parents are naturally curious about how much money their child can make. So I will try to explain briefly here.
First, there is a huge range, next from nothing to very large amounts. There are many variables involved, but here's a quick overview. These are all rates for union shows under SAG-AFTRA.
For a day, the base rate for a half-hour or one-hour show is $1,030. The rate is $3,575 for one week. Typically, a young person starting out will pay one of those rates, largely, plus an additional 10% for commissions due to their agent. The same rates are true for full-budget theatrical films, but there are many different rates for budget-oriented films. They range from deferred payments all the way up to $100 and a day for nothing until the movie sells. Ads generally pay the same as film and TV.
Live theater has a similar range. Scale pay for Broadway is over $2,200 per week. Off-Broadway and regional theaters pay less. Some small off-and-off-Broadway homes pay very, very little. These rates are based on eight shows a week, which is the standard number.
On the other end of the range, I have kids who have made over a million dollars a year. Needless to say these kids are very few.
Keep in mind, children pay taxes just like adults. If someone is involved in this, they will also have to pay 10% commission of their agent and management commission. Finally, 15% of the gross amount must be placed in a Coogan account, a blocked trust account, which cannot be accessed until the child reaches 18 years of age.
This is my final reminder to parents. You have access and free reign to spend your child's money, but they can sue you when they turn 18 so be careful if they are unhappy with your choices.