SAG-AFTRA is on strike for many reasons, including but not limited to low residual payments for streaming content (residuals are royalty payments for repeat airings of a TV show or movie). Mandy Moore, who was a series regular on the popular Emmy-winning drama This Is Us, says that her business manager once received a check for one penny in streaming residuals.
Moore was on the picket lines at Disney in Burbank, California, on Tuesday, July 18, alongside Scandal and Inventing Anna actor Katie Lowes, where Moore discussed her experience in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
“The residual issue is a huge issue,” she said. “We’re in incredibly fortunate positions as working actors having been on shows that found tremendous success in one way or another.” However, she adds, her predecessors—actors who were on successful shows in the era before streaming—were “able to live off of residuals, or at least pay their bills.” Now that’s not necessarily the case.
Moore, who has been a member of SAG since 1999, described receiving “very tiny, like 81-cent checks” in streaming residuals for This Is Us. “I was talking with my business manager who said he’s received a residual for a penny and two pennies."
Lowes has had a similar experience with streaming residuals for Scandal, a popular drama from Shonda Rhimes that aired on ABC and has since been available to stream.
“If you are someone who has been fortunate enough in our positions to do 120-plus episodes of a successful show in previous years—10, 15, 20 years ago—that re-airing would be the thing that could sustain you on years where I did this smaller project or I wanted to go do a play or you have kids and you have a family to provide for,” Lowes said. “And that is just not a reality anymore. The entire model has changed.”
It should be noted that actors share a percentage of their earnings with their agent, their manager, and their lawyer. So in a way, that one-cent check amounted to even less after regular expenses.
Mandy Moore did not share her experience in an attempt to get people to feel bad for her. She shared her experience of getting a check for one penny because, for every actor who is famous and has a reliable income, there are thousands of SAG members who are not and who are just scraping by because of low streaming residuals.