Oscar-nominated actor Angela Bassett has reportedly negotiated herself a historic new salary. She will be paid “north of $450,000 an episode” on season five of the Fox drama 9-1-1, Deadline reported Tuesday. According to the outlet, this is “among the top salaries on network television for any actor…and could be the highest ever for an actress of color on a broadcast drama series.”
This pay compensates not only Bassett’s onscreen work, but her duties as executive producer on both 9-1-1 and its spin-off, 9-1-1: Lone Star. While Bassett’s new salary may break a record, it’s also raised questions about why it’s taken so long for a Black actress on television to be paid this much. “Another historic first that indicts the entire system,” writer Saeed Jones tweeted about the news. Roxane Gay replied, “The friends got $1 million an episode for a lil half hour show,” referencing the headline-making salaries of the Friends cast in later seasons. “How is this possible. I mean I know but come on,” she added.
If reports are to be believed, Bassett will be out-earning other TV drama actresses of color, including Scandal’s Kerry Washington and How to Get Away with Murder’s Viola Davis. According to TVLine, Washington made $80,000 per episode at the start of that show’s run, earning $250,000 per episode by its finale. Oscar winner Davis reportedly received $250,000 per episode for HTGAWM’s first two seasons, and potentially making roughly $450,000 by the show’s end.
Higher per-episode paydays were received by Sofia Vergara, who earned a reported $500,000 an episode of Modern Family by the end of that show’s run, and Kaley Cuoco, who reportedly received $900,000 per episode of The Big Bang Theory during her sitcom’s final seasons. Meanwhile, Ellen Pompeo draws in $575,000 an episode for Grey’s Anatomy, and her costar, Chandra Wilson likely makes around $375,000, as reported by TVLine. Of course, these numbers pale in comparison to the salaries offered to big stars by streaming platforms: Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston reportedly made $2 million per episode for Apple TV+’s The Morning Show, while Washington reportedly earned $1 million for each episode of Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere alongside Witherspoon.
Ahead of its fifth season, the core cast of 9-1-1 all lobbied for raises. Peter Krause (Six Feet Under) earned a 25% increase and is believed to be earning $300,000 per episode. While Jennifer Love Hewitt’s salary was not disclosed, she will now receive third billing on the procedural. According to Deadline, cast members Aisha Hinds, Rockmond Dunbar, Kenneth Choi, Oliver Stark, and Ryan Guzman are believed to have received 25% raises, making about $80,000 per episode each. (Reps for Fox and the actors declined comment to Deadline.)
Season five of 9-1-1 premieres on Monday, September 20.
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