When Euphoria star Sydney Sweeney told The Hollywood Reporter in a July 27 cover story that, despite her fame, money is still tight, the internet was quickly divided on whether the right response was inquiry or sympathy. Or, as one headline put it, “Is Sydney Sweeney Unreachable or Honest?”
It’s easy to understand how reports of multimillion-dollar payouts can imply that most actors have cash, but money managers say the non-discretionary fees add up. And, like the white Lotus actress noted, it affects their career choices.
“If I wanted to take a six-month break, I have no income to cover that,” Sweeney said THR. “I take deals because I have to.”
Below you can see how those costs will be distributed in 2022.
AGENTS, MANAGERS, LAWYERS AND ACCOUNTANTS
While some reps will break rank and charge an hourly rate for their work — some corporate executives and talent attorneys in particular — long-standing “industry standard” rates still prevail. That’s 10 percent each for a star’s agent and talent manager, and 5 percent each for their attorney and business manager. Some talents may choose to skip a personal attorney in favor of an agency’s in-house business development team or just hire an accountant to do tax work, but generally 30 percent of an actor’s pay goes to various representatives – and it is not always tax deductible. Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 went into effect, only those with loaned companies benefit from commission tax breaks.
Publicist rates vary quite a bit depending on how busy the talent is, and many will take a break from their rep if the work is slow. But when Sweeney said, “I have to pay my publicist every month, and that’s more than my mortgage,” that matched what others are paying. It is generally a flat fee ranging from $3,000 to $8,000 per month.
Not every star has a personal assistant and some have several. The going rate ranges from $50,000 to about $150,000 a year — with some, usually chiefs of staff, earning even more than that. Stars could also bear the travel costs for their own personal assistants on a press tour.
This is the most complicated area — and one of the many ways business executives earn that 5 percent fee — so there’s a huge variation in what one actually pays the IRS or the state tax authorities. The highest income tax rate is 37 percent of net after operating expenses for federal taxes and 13.3 percent for California.
GLAM AND STYLING
For leveraged A-plus talent, a network or studio often covers the cost of hair, makeup and styling for press events and premieres. But that is not always the case. For full glamor, actresses are looking at $1,500 to $2,500 per event, while stylists can charge $2,000 to $3,500 for their services and use of designer clothes. All things considered, some A-list stars will easily pay $100,000 to $500,000 a year to look their best and never repeat outfits on red carpets, magazine covers, and talk show benches.
Protecting yourself and your property is often a necessary expense. Rates can start at about $5,000 for a basic security assessment. For the most prominent stars or someone with, say, a valuable art collection that needs first-class protection, 24/7 security teams can cost millions every year. — AC
This story first appeared in the October 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.