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Commercial actors, on average, make more per hour than any other type of actor, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2013, their average hourly wage was $51.08, compared to $41.94 across all categories of actors. As with all actors, though, the most successful earn several million dollars per year.
Most commercial actors are required to join the SAG-AFTRA union, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Actors, which strictly regulates the rates members are paid by production companies. There are a multitude of variables affecting how much a principal actor in a commercial is paid: how many times the commercial runs in 13-week cycles; in how many cities; and how many 13-week cycles it continues to run. Also affecting the actor's pay are rates for cable and Internet showings, and if there is a 15-second version of the commercial in addition to the standard 30-second version. The benchmark, though, is $627.75 per day for actually making the commercial, and $627.75 for the first time it runs. The actor is paid substantially less than that for every time the commercial runs afterward.
Wealthiest Commercial Actors
The dream job for a commercial actor is to become a spokesman/symbol of a particular company. These select few, such as Progressive's "Flo," and "Mayhem" for Allstate, bring millions, if not billions, into their clients' pockets, and they are rewarded for it. Peter Marcarelli made some $10 million, according to richest.com, for making "Can you hear me now?" part of Verizon's and America's lexicon. Subway's own Jared Fogle has made $15 million for losing weight with Subway and telling the world about it.
Nate Lee was senior editor of Chicago's "NewCity" newspaper and creative director in a global advertising agency. A playwright and published poet, Lee writes about the arts, culture and business innovation. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Tulane University.
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