Amid the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strike, actors have taken to social media to reveal residual checks they have received from working on popular Hollywood productions. Nearly 65,000 actors are estimated to have joined the strike, which comes on the heels of failed negotiations between the Writers Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
On July 13, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher slammed studio executives for their refusal to negotiate a beneficial resolution. “They stand on the wrong side of history,” Fran exclaimed during a press conference. Adding, “If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble. We are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines and big business.” Fran suggested that actors and writers are being lowballed thanks to the influx of streaming services.
Since the start of the strike, many notable actors have opened up about their earnings from major studio productions, and the amounts are astounding.
How much do actors make from residual checks?
Jason Sudeikis, Alison Janney, and Olivia Wilde are among the many famous faces that have joined the picket line, per The Guardian. Others, like My Best Friend’s Wedding star Dermot Mulroney, showed more triumphant displays of support. Dermot bravely walked off the set of The View in support of the writer’s strike, long before the actors joined the movement.
Meanwhile, Mandy Moore — who starred in This Is Us — disclosed the amount she receives in residual checks from streaming services. During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the Emmy-nominated actor revealed that she once received a check for 1 cent. “The residual issue is a huge issue,” Mandy said. She added, “I was talking with my business manager, who said he’s received a residual for a penny and two pennies.”
Mandy was joined by Scandal actor Katie Lowes, who suggested that she similarly received small residual checks from streaming services. Since then, several actors have shared the earnings they received from residual checks. William Stanford Davis, who appears in Abbott Elementary, showed a check for 5 cents. Similarly, K.C. Undercover star, Kamil McFadden shared a video outlining the checks he received from his time on the Disney show, and the earnings range from 1 cent to $2.61.
What are residual checks?
It isn't a secret that some of Hollywood’s leading actors are very wealthy. According to Forbes, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was the highest-paid actor in 2020, making more than $87 million a year. The outlet reports that the former professional wrestler earned a whopping $23.5 million for his role on Netflix’s Red Notice alone. However, not all actors are leading men, and some hope that residual earnings will supplement their income.
Per SAG-AFTRA, residents checks are ongoing payments to actors for continued use of their likeness in productions outside of their initial release. Union guidelines suggest that residuals for television work start once the program is re-aired, while film residuals come when the production is released on DVD, cable, or “new media.”