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Actor Explains Why Hollywood 'Millionaires' Like Mandy Moore Are Striking Despite Making Over $200K Per Episode

Photo: @thelukecook, Ringo Chiu / TikTok; Shutterstock via Canva
Left side: actor Luke Cook explains on TikTok why so many actors are going on strike. Right side: a group of people holding up SAG-AFTRA picket signs.

In light of recent events regarding the failed SAG-AFTRA negotiations for better compensation and working conditions, hundreds of thousands of actors have decided to go on strike as of July 14 alongside the Writers Guild of America (WGA), who have been on strike since May.

However, due to the common assumption that all actors are swimming in money, many people are finding it difficult to empathize with the cause.

Actor Luke Cook says most performers can't make a decent living and explains why they’re going on strike.

Netflix and Hulu star Luke Cook recently spoke up to his TikTok followers about why the union, encompassing 160,000 members, is striking, and dispelled the widespread myth that all actors are millionaires.



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In response to another user’s comment that read, “Nothing like millionaires striking to be even bigger millionaires,” the Australian actor attempted to dissuade viewers from the pervasive misconception that all actors are rich by revealing his own financial hardships in the entertainment industry.

“My name is Luke Cook. I’m an actor from 'The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,' 'Katy Keene,' 'Dynasty,' 'Dollface,'” he began, “and I am not a millionaire.”

Humbly advertising his current “2010 Mazda S3,” Cook explains that 95% of actors in SAG-AFTRA, including himself, cannot feasibly make a living without relying on other side hustles to stay afloat.

“So the actors that you’re thinking of, who are the millionaires, are usually series regulars or big A-listers in big movies,” says Cook. “The actors who surround them though, or actors like myself, guest stars, costars, et cetera, and we’re paid chips.”

The actor then divulged his experience advertising the aforementioned Hulu show "Dollface" on a billboard on Sunset Boulevard, one of the most famous streets in Los Angeles. “Do you want to know how much they paid me to be on the billboard? Zero,” he explained. “The amount they paid me to be on the show was not much better.”

Photo: Shutterstock / Joe Tabacca

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“So I live in Los Angeles and I have two kids,” the star continued. “I got paid per episode, which is two weeks of work. $7,500. Then it’s taxed. Then a manager takes 10%, an agent takes 10%, and a lawyer takes 5%.”

Although series regulars who often make six figures or more per episode are 'worth' the hefty price tag, as Cook said, he emphasized that the strike isn’t really about them — it's about actors like himself who aren't getting paid enough for their work.

“So this discussion is not about millionaires. As I said, 95% of the union can’t make enough money to live by just doing this job."

Now, your favorite actor probably won’t be too affected by this deal,” Cook continued. “Whatever the deal ends up being, they’ll just continue to get paid a whole lot of money. But everybody else who surrounds them, who enables them to play the roles that they get to play, who play the smaller roles that surround them, are asking for a better payday.”

Photo: Shutterstock / Joe Tabacca

Cook subsequently concluded the video, stating, “As someone who’s a battler, and I always have a side job, I think it’d be great to get paid money to be in your favorite shows. That just seems fair to me. Like, if you see me on TV, I shouldn’t have to have two side jobs just in order to survive.”

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Taking this newfound information into account, the comments were vastly supportive of the actor.

One user wrote, “It’s just like any other job and you should be able to make a reasonable living regardless of what your job is.”

“This strike is showing me how little people outside the industry know about the true peanuts most of us are paid,” said another.

“I want to sincerely thank you for making this video because I had no idea what it was about,” another user added. “It is really unfair.”

In addition to Cook’s explanation regarding the strike, union members expressed in an open letter to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) that they are also fighting against the use of artificial intelligence to use their likeness without fair compensation.

In response, the AMPTP said that the strike would not only put a halt on operations “without the performers that bring our TV shows and films to life,” but it also brings forth financial challenges for those who rely on the industry. Yet the studios' refusal to fairly negotiate with the union isn't doing anyone any favors.

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Other well-known actors have joined the picket lines to support the strike.

Emmy-nominated actress Mandy Moore also advocated for the union strike by joining in herself. In a TikTok uploaded by @sagaftra, Moore revealed her long-standing membership of SAG-AFTRA, which prompted her to march “shoulder-to-shoulder with our fellow guild members to fight for a fair contract around residuals, AI, everything.”



Additionally, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Moore said her residuals — payments allocated by the number of times an accredited work is reused after its initial release — ranged from one penny to 81 cents for the hit show, "This Is Us."

If famed actors like Mandy Moore are looking at residual checks that are hardly worth the cost of a Snickers bar, just imagine the next-to-nothing wages other less-known performers are being forced to live with — and no one deserves to live that way.

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Xiomara Demarchi is a writer based in New York who covers human interest topics for YourTango’s news and entertainment team. Keep up with them on Instagram.