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View Full Version : Could an unknown soap opera actor in New York be able to afford an apartment in Greenwich Village



Shara
08-08-2016, 04:03 PM
OK, this question is aimed at those that have knowledge of New York, and American soap actors.

For the new novel in my amateur sleuth series, I am taking my actress amateur sleuth to America, where she's got a six-month contract in an American soap, based in New York City.

She has to live someplace, obviously. I wanted to put her in Greenwich village, but my research leads me to believe she couldn't afford to rent. I have been led to believe that an unknown soap star might expect to earn $700 per episode, and may work for two days a week (hence, two episodes). A salary of $1400 per week is probably going to make rents in Greenwich Village out of reach of my poor actress.

So where else might she live?

And if anyone's got any knowledge of where daytime TV production companies in New York City are most likely to be based, that would be helpful too. So I can work out where she has to commute to every day for filming!

ap123
08-08-2016, 04:17 PM
Is she only in NY for the 6 month stint? If this is the case, she'd look for a sublet with a roommate. If you do that, you can put her where you'd like. Why the Village?

Unless she has a large bank account, as an unknown without a regular paycheck, she'd be hard pressed to get a lease, even if she found an apartment she could afford. Leases in NY are also 1 or 2 years, generally, not 6 months.

cornflake
08-08-2016, 06:03 PM
OK, this question is aimed at those that have knowledge of New York, and American soap actors.

For the new novel in my amateur sleuth series, I am taking my actress amateur sleuth to America, where she's got a six-month contract in an American soap, based in New York City.

She has to live someplace, obviously. I wanted to put her in Greenwich village, but my research leads me to believe she couldn't afford to rent. I have been led to believe that an unknown soap star might expect to earn $700 per episode, and may work for two days a week (hence, two episodes). A salary of $1400 per week is probably going to make rents in Greenwich Village out of reach of my poor actress.

So where else might she live?

And if anyone's got any knowledge of where daytime TV production companies in New York City are most likely to be based, that would be helpful too. So I can work out where she has to commute to every day for filming!

She'd get another job. She'd also likely find a room to let, or a sublet, as above, as renting a proper apt. for six months isn't likely on either that salary or for the period.

Why the Village?

However, you're kind of out of luck I think. They used to film on the Upper West mostly, but I don't think there are any more that do. Soap operas are kind of decimated; there are only a few left standing and I don't think any are in NYC?

Perks
08-08-2016, 06:16 PM
Yeah, I looked up a few of the soaps that are still on TV and they're all filmed in Los Angeles.

ElaineA
08-08-2016, 06:24 PM
Yeah, here's a link to a news article from 2011 showing that NYC has no more soaps filming there (http://www.backstage.com/news/two-soap-opera-staples-canceled/).

NYC.gov has a list of "What's filming in NYC." (http://www1.nyc.gov/site/mome/production-in-nyc/filming-now-in-nyc.page) Maybe one of the shows on there could work?

Perks
08-08-2016, 06:32 PM
Or, the OP could, if it needs to be in NYC, invent a new soap opera that is looking to revitalize the industry on the east coast. I mean, I imagine they left for good reason, but fiction is as fiction does.

mrsmig
08-08-2016, 07:33 PM
I can address this a little bit.

First, there are two kinds of soap opera acting jobs: recurring, and contract. Recurring performers are those who consistently appear in less than three episodes per week out of a five-day work week, and are paid per episode in which they appear. Contract performers receive a flat fee paid out over the contracted period, for example, Actress A is paid $500k for her work from the period January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016. Contract performers are guaranteed to perform in a certain number of episodes per week, and are committed to the show through the term of the contract. Recurring performers can (and do) work elsewhere while appearing on the soap. Because contracts are more expensive for the producer, they are generally reserved for the major stars of the show, while those making fewer appearances are relegated to "recurring" status.

In the scenario you've outlined, with your actress on recurring status for a limited time, she would probably look for a sublet - in other words, lease an apartment from its current renter rather than commit to a full-year lease in a building (month by month leases can be found, but you usually pay more for them). I did this when I booked a Broadway show in 2009, because I already had a home in Virginia and was fairly certain the show wouldn't last more than a few months (I was right).

Through Craigslist, I was able to find a sublet in midtown Manhattan on 8th Avenue, only a few blocks' walk from the theatre. The renter of record was an actress who was finishing up a long-term contract at an out-of-state regional theatre, and had already planned to move to a cheaper place with roommates when her lease was up. On my B'way contract, I made roughly $1900/week before taxes and deductions; my sublet cost me roughly the same amount for the month (I believe the actress was paying $1500/month, but what I paid her included utilities, cable and internet, plus the use of her furniture, bed linens and towels). In 2009 that was pretty steep, but it was worth it to me to be walking distance from the rehearsal studio and the theatre, in an elevator building with a 24-hour doorman and a laundry on site (listen, all those things are HUGE pluses in NYC!).

I had to move out of the sublet on December 29th, before my show closed. The actress had to repaint the place before her lease ended on December 31st. Again on Craigslist, I found a loft studio sublet, slightly less expensive, in a less desirable neighborhood on 10th Avenue. The renters of record were two Brazilian makeup artists who were headed to Rio for the holidays and wanted a renter from Dec. 23 - Jan. 23. My show was gasping along and I was pretty sure our closing notice would be posted soon after the first of the year (again, I was right - we closed January 10). So yes, for one week I was leasing TWO apartments in NYC, but as it turned out family came into town that week, so they stayed in the 8th Ave place while my husband and I shifted over to the 10th Ave loft. After the show closed I moved back to Virginia, but since the loft was paid for until January 23rd, I left a few things there and used it for a couple of quick NYC visits.

You can, of course, find cheaper sublets. New York is rife with them (a lot of buildings prohibit subleasing but turn a blind eye to the practice). Your actress can sublet an entire apartment, as I did, or sublet a room within a larger apartment, which would involve dealing with roommates. I'd suggest you invent an actor friend who's going out of town (invent the reason of your choice), wants someone trustworthy in the apartment (again, invent the reason of your choice), and is willing to give your MC a slight break on the rent. That will give your MC a furnished place to live in the location of your choice, enabling her to live off her soap opera money without the necessity of a second job that would cut into her sleuthing time.

ETA: Heh, just read ElaineA's post. Does your actress HAVE to be in a soap? A lot of shows - network, cable, and movies - shoot in NYC.

Dennis E. Taylor
08-08-2016, 08:41 PM
Sure, if a CHiP motorcycle cop can afford a trendy converted warehouse loft in downtown L.A., why not?

Shara
08-08-2016, 10:41 PM
Thanks, all, for the helpful comments.

It has to be a soap because I had her in New York for an earlier book in the series, where she had a bit part, and the plot for the new novel rather hinges on her being asked back to revive the character for another storyline. So if there are no soaps being filmed in NYC these days, I'm going to have to exploit some creative licence.

Mrsmig, the idea of her subletting from another actor for six months sounds most likely - and most convenient for the storyline - so I shall research that concept further.

As for why Greenwich Village, it's just because that's my favourite bit of NYC!

New York is one of my favourite cities in the world, and I've visited five times. I long to bring my amateur sleuth back there, and it gives me an excuse for another visit. You know, for research purposes...

AW Admin
08-08-2016, 10:48 PM
Thanks, all, for the helpful comments.

It has to be a soap because I had her in New York for an earlier book in the series, where she had a bit part, and the plot for the new novel rather hinges on her being asked back to revive the character for another storyline. So if there are no soaps being filmed in NYC these days, I'm going to have to exploit some creative licence.

Mrsmig, the idea of her subletting from another actor for six months sounds most likely - and most convenient for the storyline - so I shall research that concept further.

As for why Greenwich Village, it's just because that's my favourite bit of NYC!

New York is one of my favourite cities in the world, and I've visited five times. I long to bring my amateur sleuth back there, and it gives me an excuse for another visit. You know, for research purposes...

I'd take a look at Craig's List:

http://newyork.craigslist.org/search/aap?query=greenwhich+village

frimble3
08-09-2016, 12:49 AM
The soap she was on, I assume it was meant to be popular in it's day? Maybe the producers figured there was enough interest left to do a movie, wrapping up various stories? Like the 'X-Files' movie? Maybe they have plans to spin off a couple of characters into something else, and figure this would serve as a testing ground? And a few days work for your character?

cornflake
08-09-2016, 02:55 AM
The Village is very, very expensive, but it's not impossible to find a cheap sublet by word-of-mouth. Cheap would be probably at least a couple grand for a studio.

Be careful with the CL listings - many, many of those are fakes one way or another, but only if you're familiar with what you're looking at, if you know what I mean. There are pics and listings for apartments that are in cities not NY, heh. Feel free to post something if you're unsure and we can look (there are now two NYers in the thread and more on the board). It doesn't matter matter as you're not renting it, but if you want veracity vs. the Friends apartments...

ElaineA
08-09-2016, 03:10 AM
Also, it might be possible--story-wise--to just have her luck into something. Maybe someone involved with the show or the production company or talent agency needs a house and cat sitter for a while and is willing to let the MC stay at their place for free in exchange for feeding and changing kitty litter. Just another thought. You have lots of ways to manufacture the story so your fictional character can live in the Village. (And shop at the Chelsea Market omgIlovethatplace)

ap123
08-09-2016, 04:31 AM
If you're looking for authenticity, one thing to keep in mind is that much of the real estate in the (west) Village is now owned by NYU.

The East Village could work (and is much cooler than the west village is these days), but a) still hideously expensive, and b) most of the young people I know these days prefer Brooklyn, particularly the young people with an arts bent/connection/profession. In Brooklyn, the hottest of the hot neighborhoods is Williamsburg ($$$$), also look at Crown Heights, Greenpoint, and Clinton Hill. If you want a more realistic Manhattan option, check out the Lower East Side, or head uptown to Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights (arguably the most beautiful neighborhood in Manhattan), or Inwood.

In Manhattan, standard minimum to be approved for an apartment is for the renter to earn 40 times the monthly rent. Did I mention minimum? And if it's a young person or someone who earns some part of their $ off the books, often a cosigner is needed.

I want to second what Cornflake is saying above. If your character isn't both cynical and savvy, it's unlikely that at least once she wouldn't find herself either outright scammed or contorting herself trying to figure out the angle that allowed the photos she saw on Craigslist to have been taken at the property she's now standing in front of.

Not the scam you'd be looking at, but as an example: I used to live in a fancy shmancy full service building (I was part of the affordable units program). At least twice a month, I'd find a family or small group of people standing in the lobby sobbing, they had booked their "hotel" online, and here they were, in the very building they had seen pictures of. Surprise! Not a hotel, and now they had nowhere to stay, usually nowhere near enough money to stay in an actual hotel in NY either.

I'd go with a sublet share, as a New Yorker, it's the one scenario I wouldn't roll my eyes at.