View Full Version : Soap Opera Stars

06-24-2010, 02:33 AM
if you're a regular actor on a soap, how much do you make?

how long before you could live the rest of you life on it?

do you rarely see soap stars out side of soaps because they can't hack it or don't want/need to?

06-24-2010, 03:09 AM
I have no idea how much the actors make, though I know it's a hell of a lot less now than it was 20 years ago (when soap operas were at the height of their success). I doubt you could live off of it unless you're there for a few decades (though this is pure speculation on my part).

As for seeing some of them out of soaps, well, look at Tommy Lee Jones, Robin Wright, Juliane Moore, Meg Ryan, Kevin Bacon, etc etc. All of them started on soaps and they seem to have done OK. ;) But there are definitely other actors who leave, try their hand at movies or primetime, and come back to soaps when they don't make it. So you could go either way on that.

Hope this helps! :)

06-24-2010, 03:13 AM
I know UK Soap actors are on anything from 50K - 240K a year.

06-24-2010, 03:29 AM
I don't know $, but a lot of actors/actresses who are on contract make a living at it. Unless they're a huge name (like Susan Lucci) they won't be making huge dollars. But it's a livable salary.

But there are a lot of actors who aren't on contract, but rather are recurring, which means they have a job when the studio calls them.

06-24-2010, 07:33 AM
For the US, most television stars, including soap stars, are paid by the episode, rather than an annual salary. According to about.com (http://onelifetolive.about.com/od/articles/a/stars_salaries.htm), the usual average minimum is $700-$1500 per episode. If they have been there several years, it can get up to $3000. Of course, the big stars make way way more, but that roughly translates to $72,800-$312,000/year.

With a good head for money, keeping expenses down, no debt, owning their own home, etc, someone probably could be "set" after 10-20 years if they were aggressive in building a portfolio, but would also depend on the age of the character in question. "Rest of your life" is a lot longer for someone in their 30s than someone in their 50s. Also cost of living in general. If you can life the lifestyle you want owning your own home and spending $40k a year, you can stretch a couple million a lot further than if you spend $200k a year :-)

Many soap stars do work outside of the soaps, like commercials, made-for-tv movies, etc. The ones you don't see are usually the ones who either haven't drawn anyone's attention, or aren't interested.

06-25-2010, 05:41 PM
Just wanted to add that a common reason that you don't see actively working soap stars doing much else is the grind. Generally speaking, you get your script in the evening, block/rehearse the next morning and film that afternoon. Then you get your next script and do it all over again. Five episodes a week is a crazy arduous schedule--most primetime shows film one episode a week, while reality competition shows do two episodes: a performance and an elimination. Soap stars work harder, or at least more hours, than pretty much anybody else in the business. And get a lot less credit for it. Along those lines, it can be difficult to make the jump to other work because they're kind of at the bottom of the food chain. But like others have noted, several have successfully made the transition.

Celia Cyanide
06-25-2010, 09:54 PM
I would call AFTRA and ask. They would know.

06-26-2010, 12:01 AM
I know UK Soap actors are on anything from 50K - 240K a year.


although the majority of soap actors earn around below 100k, there are some who earn alot more, but these tend to be soap 'legends', sometimes people who have come from another soap - such as the woman who played mage in neightbours, she then went to corrie.

it's all about the draw. the more famous you are outside of soap land, the more you make.

fyi, the majority of soap actors never make enough to live off for the rest of their lives. when they fall off the soap grid they can usually be found working theatre, small guest roles on telly, or the frier at mcdonalds.

06-26-2010, 12:18 AM
so there are probably a lot of ex-soar actor working as consultants, teachers, assistants, writers, etc?

Linda Adams
06-26-2010, 01:24 AM
David Hedison (a TV and film actor prior to soaps) starred on Another World and later Young and the Restless. He wrote this on what a typical day on the studio was like: http://david-hedison.com/wordpress/?page_id=69

During his days on Another World he attended a lot of events--Another World luncheon, judge at a food contest, fund raisers, etc. But, as you can see from his description above, filming the soap is grueling. It's one episode a day, no matter what, so it doesn't leave time to go film a movie or a TV appearance without a lot of advance coordination.

06-26-2010, 03:12 PM
a good way to find out is to google ex soap stars and find out what they are up to now.

06-26-2010, 06:12 PM
I knew a Swedish soap "star" once in the mid-nineties. She made 30 000 Swedish crowns a month which isn't particularly impressive. It's something like 4000 USD. That's before tax. In these parts it's in the low range of a middle-class salary. She went on to do theatre in small towns after that.

Linda Adams
06-26-2010, 07:34 PM
a good way to find out is to google ex soap stars and find out what they are up to now.

Not necessarily. It all needs to be taken in context of the particular actor and the roles he's done. There's one actor who was so typecast by a TV series that he went into soaps (at the time, the lowest of the low in acting). Though he had worked, after he left the soap, he still couldn't get work because of the first series that so typecast him! It had nothing to do with the soap opera, which ended still being outshone by the original TV series. The actor in question blasted the producer of the TV series at a convention I was--frustrated by his inability to get work.

ETA: Other actors might choose not to work after soaps. Others may hit the age ceiling and be unable to work.

06-29-2010, 07:42 AM
A good friend was a writer for One Life to Live.

The shows taped in New York clearly have to pay their recurring actors enough to live in Manhattan. While they wouldn't have time to do a Broadway show, it's certainly possible to squeeze in a commercial or some voicework.

A lot of actors got their start on soaps because they have large casts and provide steady work, even if it's only for a few months. I was surprised to learn just this morning that Don Knotts was on Search for Tomorrow in the early 50s, before he did No Time for Sargeants with Andy Griffith.

Others may hit the age ceiling and be unable to work.

Helen Wagner and Anna Lee were both over ninety when they taped their final episodes. The bigger problem with age on soap operas is with young people who are hurriedly aged to give the characters more mature story lines.