Only two black actors have appeared on the list of Hollywood’s 10 highest paid actors on TV, according to a survey by Entertainment Weekly, Variety.
Black actor, Kevin Hart has been listed as the ninth highest paid, at $500,000 for CBS and MGM’s TKO: Total Knock Out while his colleague, Anthony Mackie got the 10th position, earning $475,000 for Netflix’s Altered Carbon.
The list includes Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Anniston, Norman Reedus, Julia Roberts, Elisabeth Moss, Steve Carell and Kelly Clarkson, with Javier Bardem’s salary earning the top spot with $1.2 million for an upcoming series from Amazon/Amblin TV.
The list was based on the examination of the impact of a new law in California, which prohibits employers from asking their would-be employees how much money they were making at their former jobs.
The law, according to Variety, has amended ways in which TV shows decide how much to pay actors as studios can no longer base the amount to offer an actor based on their pay history but rather on what the actor is bringing to the table in relation with the script.
This law has benefitted a lot of minority groups such as women and people of colour though it seems that still, a chunk of the money is heading to the top.
Hart, an actor and producer is well known for productions such as Ride Along (2014), Central Intelligence (2016) and Grudge Match (2013) while Mackie has over the years been featured in feature films, television series and Broadway and Off-Broadway plays, such as Talk, Black Bottom, McReele.
The two have been in some of the top productions between 2017 and 2018, yet they have still not been able to make as many millions as compared to their white counterparts.
The lack of pay equality among black folks came to light recently when Forbes magazine released its list of TV’s 10 highest-paid actresses this October.
For the fifth year in a row, Kerry Washington was the only black woman to appear on the list, after nabbing the number 8 spot for her role on the hit ABC show, Scandal, which brought in $11 million for her over the past year.
Fellow ABC star, Ellen Pompeo brought in $23.5 million for her role in “Grey’s Anatomy”, (3rd spot), a figure far higher than Washington’s while “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara, who earned $42.5 million got the top position.
Though Washington was able to earn more than “Homeland” star Claire Danes, who took home $9 million, and former “NCIS” star Pauley Perrette, who earned $8.5 million, the fact that she was the only black person on the list raised concerns about production companies not paying the current crop of black actresses enough to make it on lists such as this.
It is these rankings that will influence their future jobs and boost their career, so a second look must be given to their condition, industry watchers have said.
It is unfortunate that even the Black women who are believed to have more opportunities in acting are not making as much as their white counterparts.
Black actress, Taraji P. Henson highlighted this in her memoir Around the Way Girl where she described being paid a lowly six-figure and was even forced to pay for her own hotel costs for her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, while others like Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt received incomes in the millions, Refinery29 reported.
She said that she didn’t widely talk about it because “there are way more talented black actresses than there are intelligent, meaningful roles for them, and we’re consistently charged with diving for the crumbs of the scraps, lest we starve.”