October 21, 2016 Financial Health ·

I made it as an actor. I couldn’t make the rent.

Originally published by The Clyde Fitch Report →

The Clyde Fitch Report | Successful actor on Broadway and beyond. Victim of America’s high-rent blight.

By 2010, I had made it as an actor in NYC. I was 30 years old. I’d debuted on Broadway, filmed two TV commercials back-to-back, checked off my requisite Law and Orderappearance, and was cast in two new, upcoming Off-Broadway musicals, both written by award-winning geniuses. My fellow actors had careers of legend. The New York Times reviewed our work. The stories we were telling were urgent and heartbreakingly beautiful. And I couldn’t pay my rent.

As we have seemingly resigned ourselves to saying in the theater, “the higher the art, the lower the pay.” In my case, it couldn’t have been more accurate. For those two Off-Broadway musicals, I was paid $218 and $300 per week, respectively, before taxes. That worked out to be $872 and $1200 per month. In terms of my time, the rates were $5.42 and $7.50 per hour each. My rent was $1500 per month. In other words, nearly two months of pay went towards one month of rent.

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