Fighting for what they deserve. Angela Bassett may be earning the highest salary ever for an actress of color on a broadcast drama series for her role on 9-1-1.
Series star Angela Bassett led the way with a major bump that I hear takes her to north of $450,000 an episode. That is believed to be among the top salaries on network television for any actor — male or female — and could be the highest ever for an actress of color on a broadcast drama series.
For Oscar-nominated Bassett, it encompasses other services beyond acting. She was involved in the development of 9-1-1, whom Ryan Murphy created for her. She serves as an executive producer on 9-1-1 as well as spinoff 9-1-1: Lone Star.
9-1-1‘s male lead, Peter Krause, after a 25% raise, commands the second biggest check on the show, believed to be in the low $300K per episode range. He is followed by Jennifer Love Hewitt, who joined the series in Season 2. She succeeded Connie Britton who shared top billing with Bassett and Krause in Season 1.
The rest of the cast, including original cast members Aisha Hinds, Rockmond Dunbar, Kenneth Choi and Oliver Stark, as well as Ryan Guzman, who joined in Season 2, are believed to be all getting a 25% raise to about $80,000 an episode next season and are projected to go up to $100,000 an episode in Season 6.
Hinds, Dunbar and Choi went down to the wire, with Choi closing his deal last, after production on Season 5 had already started.
Stark, who started with a much lower episodic fee than his counterparts because the young actor had far fewer credits when he was cast in the pilot than Hinds, Dunbar and Choi, was the only original supporting cast member to receive a raise last year, when I hear his salary was almost doubled to get to the range of the other three. He also got 25% pay increase this year to maintain parity with Hinds, Dunbar, Choi as well as Guzman, who also is at the same level despite starting a year later.
Since TV studios abandoned the quote system, they have adopted what is referred to as an “equal pay for equal work” compensation formula, which calls for pay parity among actors in the same tier. While compliant with the new rule, the roughly 130% combined raise for Stark over the last 12 months vs. 25% for his co-stars — all seasoned actors of color with extensive body of work– led to some contention during their negotiations, likely colored by Hollywood’s history of inherent bias. Ultimately, everyone signed their new deal, and the close-knit cast remain friends, I hear.
Reps for the studio and the actors declined comment.
Ahead of Season 3 or 5 is when casts of successful series customarily renegotiate their original six-year contracts, getting a salary bump in exchange for adding a year to their agreements. The Covid pandemic pushed many renegotiations and also has put a financial strain on media companies, making for difficult talks on virtually every show.
Queen Angela deserves every dollar.