How to tell if you're being paid fairly as an actor

In the UK the actors union, Equity, represent actors and performers and other artists working in the entertainment industry to help ensure that a minimum fair wage is met. So Equity contracts set minimum rates of pay and standards, which includes holiday entitlements to meal breaks and extra pay for longer or unsociable working hours. Also ensuring that there is equal opportunity without discrimination over gender, race, sexuality or disability and that everyone is paid fairly and equally.

Actors should read through these payment guidelines so they understand there rights and if they are being underpaid. Some work, including short films and student films may stipulate that the work is unpaid, and possibly expenses and food being offered. If the role will offer you valuable experience and a copy of the showreel you may feel this is payment enough. Always check any contract with a Union or an employment lawyer to ensure you are being paid fairly. Let an employer tell you what they intend to pay you rather than answering that question for them as you maybe underselling yourself. If you have a special talent, for example fire eating or are an expert violinist, you may be intitled for more pay, as well as extra pay for stints of work abroad, or outside of your local area. There are differently classed categories with Equity that show where extra pay should be awarded for example a change of clothes as a results of a weather change on set, or if you have to have a physical change eg. your hair cut or dyed, using special equipemnt such as a tennis racket or martial arts weapon. Or if you are acting as double or lookalike.

Acting agents will have their own commission structure in place, and you need to check what there commission is, as it can vary from 10% to 20% and more, so again check with the Union or the HMRC to ensure it is fair and you are being paid fairly.