-- By Faith Hibbs-Clark
So you're interested in commercial acting?
Congratulations on taking the first step towards a potentially lucrative career in the entertainment industry! Whether you use it to promote your film acting career, create a lucrative career just in commercials, or use it as a well-paid side hustle, commercial acting has a lot to offer.
But first, let me tell you a story from my casting career. In 2009, I cast an actor in a golf commercial. He was a local actor with a very modest resume but he knew how to believably swing a golf club. With his tacky print golf shirt, adorned with an explosion of neon hues that could practically be seen from outer space, and his Bermuda shorts, seemingly inspired by a tropical luau gone wrong, this man swang a golf club and smiled at the camera three times and then left my office.
This man was booked! He worked 1 hour on set and received a full day's pay of roughly $700. Not bad right? But, I continued to see his "15 seconds of fame" as his commercial aired over and over again on the golf channel. Knowing that he probably received "residual" payments, I was curious how much money he made from this commercial.
Then one day, I ran into him at Costco and decided to ask him. "How much did you make from that commercial that I cast you in last year?" His answer might surprise you ... "$170,000 last I checked," he replied, "but I am still getting checks so I am not sure."
The Value of Opening Doors
Commercial acting provides an unparalleled opportunity to showcase your talent to a vast audience. Commercials have the power to reach millions, allowing you to gain exposure and recognition beyond traditional acting platforms. It's a chance to captivate viewers with your charisma and leave a lasting impression.
Brad Pitt, known for his charming charisma and captivating screen presence, leveraged his talent through commercials to build a successful film career. Early in his career, he appeared in a Pringles commercial, showcasing his natural charm and acting skills. This commercial not only helped him gain exposure but also demonstrated his potential as an actor, leading to more significant opportunities in the industry.
As a Career Choice
Commercial acting, with its wide reach and potential for exposure, offers actors the opportunity to showcase their talent and leave a lasting impression on viewers. While it can serve as a stepping stone to a successful film career, it can also provide financial stability and recognition for those who choose to focus primarily on commercial work.
Stephanie Courtney, famously known as Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials, is a prime example. Her portrayal of the enthusiastic and quirky character has made her a household name and has led to a successful and lucrative career. Although specific figures for her earnings are not readily available, it is estimated that she earns a substantial income, and her net worth is reported to be around $6 million.
The Lucrative Side Hustle
When it comes to financial rewards, commercial acting has the potential to be highly lucrative. While individual earnings may vary depending on factors such as experience, the scale of the production, and usage rights, successful commercial actors can earn substantial income.
To put things into perspective, established actors can earn anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars per commercial depending on factors such as their level of fame, the brand they are endorsing, and the scope of the campaign.
While ZipRecruiter cites the average commercial actor salary in the U.S. as just under $57,000 per year, it's important to note that commercial actors are typically paid per gig rather than receiving a consistent salary. Like the story, I told you earlier in this article, residuals, or use fees, also contribute to actors' earnings based on prolonged usage of their work. What is nice about this ZipRecriter information is that the hourly rates cited are based on all the work that the actor does including your time and work off-camera as well. After all, there is more to your acting career than just the time you spend working on the set.
How to Get Started
Embracing commercial auditioning as a specialized skill set is a wise move for actors looking to broaden their horizons and reach new heights in the industry. By learning the ins and outs of this unique aspect of acting, you can captivate wide audiences, build connections, and unlock a world of exciting and potentially lucrative possibilities.
So, why wait? Equip yourself with the tools and techniques needed for success in commercial auditions. The journey to becoming a thriving commercial actor awaits!
Faith is a body language expert who specialized in deception detection before becoming a casting director and working in the film industry for over 25 years. She is the founder of the Communication Method for Actors, LLC & the creator of the Acting Science Method ™.