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Barkhad Abdi And The Financial Reality Of Hollywood

Barkhad Abdi And The Financial Reality Of Hollywood

Something that always irks me is when I hear black people
talking about how some black actor or actress in some movie, is supposedly making “big money”. The reality is that, most times, unless they are a bona fide “A”-lister, or a steadily working character actor, they’re not.

In fact, in a lot of cases, they’re just barely getting by.
And add to that, other financial obligations that drain their earnings, such as agent’s
or manager’s percentage fees, PR, wardrobe and makeup people, the costs of continually
maintaining an image etc. A lot of actors are lucky to have anything left, after
all is said and done.

Which is why I wasn’t surprised when I came across a New
Yorker article
revealing that Oscar nominated
and BAFTA award winner for Best Supporting Actor, Barkhad Abdi, who
shot to fame after his first film role in Captain
, is dead broke.

I’m sure some of you are saying: How can that be? That was
a major, expensive, studio production that was a worldwide box office smash. Well, the reality is that, despite the film’s
$55 million
budget (which is actually lower than expected, because the film was
seen as something of a commercial risk), Abdi was paid only $65,000, which is about average for what a first time actor is paid
for a major role in a film.

Of course, Tom Hanks and director Paul Greengrass got paid a lot more, but even they took pay cuts to get the film made.

Also, keep in mind that the film was made almost a year
and half ago, and Abdi has yet to get another role film since then. Of course Tambay
did report a few days ago that Abdi is currently in talks to play the lead role
in another film in development (HERE). But production hasn’t started yet, and things could fall apart, as is the case with most film projects; And admittedly, it’s going to be hard for him to find roles.

After filming the movie, Abdi went back home to Minneapolis to work in his brother’s mobile phone store, but
when the film came out, he decided to take a chance, quit his job and move
to L.A. to pursue a career as an actor.

But it hasn’t been easy so far. According to the New

Abdi is in Los Angeles to promote the film, he subsists on a per diem, good at
the Beverly Hilton, where the studio likes to put him up. The town car is
available only for official publicity events. His clothes are loaners. Recently
Abdi requested that he be allowed to stay at a commuter hotel near LAX to be closer
to his friend, a Somali cabdriver from Minneapolis, who shuttles him around for

In the past, sometimes, when
a studio is embarrassed by negative PR like this, especially when it comes to money, it tries
to correct things. So it’s very possible that Sony Pictures will give Abdi a huge financial
bonus in reaction to the New Yorker article, which would be fair and very
well deserved.

But the reality is, as I have said often on this site, the entertainment industry
is a cutthroat business that takes no prisoners. Abdi’s story is, sadly, just one of
many similar stories.  

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This is really an issue that never gets old……On the flip side of the story there are so many directors and producers, writers and editors who have the ideas, movie scripts and better roles for our African American actors and actresses but can't get them in front of the right people without paying fees! Really????? Who do we connect to? Those online websites don't work …You know the ones that claim to give you the insight on your work and claim to be apart of the industry??? I submitted to one and they told me that my characters were "Too Ghetto" and that's the reason for my script not selling….Really??? So I contacted the head of the program and listed all of the occupations of my characters, % of people from our communities who own lucrative businesses in the self-employment sector/ which hollywood block busters matched the theme of my movies etc! So, please don't think that we've forgotten about the needs of the actors…We truly hear and want to answer the cry from the directors chair regarding more material due to diversity. Many of us (which I'm truly considering)are having to go over seas first just to get my foot in the door with the world of reality tv just so I can make a dent in the world of entertainment and see if they would pick up my idea and release it in the states. Shame but record companies do it with performers all the time…
We, have to begin to take ownership of our materials and cover ourselves create our own production companies and network with one another to find funding and not allow what we don't have hinder our progress. What was King marching for?????? I am determined to write my way out of the ghetto…See, you at the box office


my mind full about new movie but where i put my ideas i need some help me i need money for my ideas


Cant believe he has only been paid $65K,…. Sony pi
Hope this guys gets a lots of gigs. I'm looking forward to see him in future roles!


very sad.


Everybody robbed African-American people where ever they are from. I think AA people should tell racist Hollywood to kiss their a.. Move to Atlanta and began making "our" own movies, like Tyler Perry. Hollywood has changed much since "birth of a nation". The same type people making the decisions.


At 65K. He'll qualify for SAG Health Insurance. Certainly he can take some of that money and reinvest it in himself…a web series, a short, stand-up comedy, etc. He's certainly made some contacts and this is a relationship business…OH! and some residuals are coming his way too. No one gets one job and never has to worry in our business. I don't feel bad for him one bit.


the demand for crooks and drugdealers in movies is definitly there but there is a vast amount of such people to choose from. next story you leftist scumbag


I think we can all agree that the real tragedy here remains the moment when he had to accept that all the money in the world will not change the fact that he is likely to be the ugliest mofo most people have ever laid eyes on.


Sorry but there are a lot of actors who get peanuts, not just "African American" actors. And why does somebody have to say they're "African American" anyway. People with a Scottish heritage don't go around saying their "Scottish American" or people from France don't say their "French American", just my two cents worth..


Haben, you are missing the point. Black is not a term reserved for Americans of African descent–it is a term used to classify people of African heritage throughout the world. This encompasses countless cultures of Black people. Of course our experiences are unique(I dismissed nothing), but we are different branches on the same tree for goodness sake! I do not know how to be any clearer. To say you are not Black because you are Somalian, Kenyan, Nigerian, etc. would be like an Irish, Welsh, or English person saying he or she is not White! You mentioned Latinos. Well, you certainly wouldn't want to confuse a Dominican with a Puerto Rican for example, but they don't become "irked"if they are called Latinos. It is ridiculous to be "irked" because this gentleman was called Black actor. That is what I meant about your superiority. Please don't mistake you for Black because you ain't one of us! And to Grace, plenty of Africans reject Black Americans and hold on to a host of negative stereotypes. It works both ways and is truly a shame that we find ways to separate ourselves.


Yes, this is NOT good; BUT…………give me $65,000 and see if I could't make it last at least 2 years! Often, when we come into "big" money (when accustomed to not having much), it is easy to go out and just blow it. OR, help out family (in which case, this is NOT a lot of money).


Only 65,000! Wow that's more then some people make in 2 years!


What irks me is that he is being identified as Black. I am African but I do not identify myself as Black. Culturally we are different; it does not make one better than the other but there is a difference.

A. Bass

…I'm quite sure black people aren't the only ones misinformed about this subject. You sound like an asshole.

Mary Moore

I have said it before, and will continue to say… " The Slave Trade is Still alive and Thriving, it's called The Business of Show"…Primarily Music, but other genres as well. There is Nothing New under The Sun. We simple need to 'pay attention'.


…it has to be frustrating to a writer to put effort into a piece only to have many readers who lack comprehension…these days, with so many outlets its almost impossible to target a particular audience…and most certainly as you see and my have seen, one cannot address the masses as a whole…**sigh**


Booh hoo, a nobody wines an Oscar in his first role ever and we're to feel bad because he isn't living in a mansion and driving a Ferrari? There's this little thing called paying your dues and he has already skipped about 100,000 steps past those who have actually paid them. His rewards are still to come. Winning an Oscar, you may have heard, will garner you many well-paying offers. This article is a short-sited mess.

ken swaizak

the elitist hollywood jews and there cronies pocket the great majority of hollywood proceeds. It may seem like the actors, even the big draws, get paid a lot. It is really just a pittance compared to the what their masters reap.


This reminds me of the article a few years ago about how the child actors in Slum Dog Millionaire were broke. Nobody makes big money in films unless they become a major star. And to the people that are making it about black vs. white: color doesn't matter. A no-name actor is paid union scale plus whatever his or her agent can negotiate. If Mr. Abdi books another major film and becomes "bankable" then his salary will increase accordingly.

Kristi Kaylor

Thanks for the thoroughly idiotic piece and total lack of insight? Why is this a black thing? It's an actor thing. Tom Hanks opens movies. He's a star. He gets lots of money. People starting out get bare minimums. These are the rules, not just in the film business, but everywhere. If he's lucky enough to kill it in the audition room and book more work, then he'll get more work. Actors, like all artists always have a cup in their hand. Gig to gig.

He got some fame, he got more money than most actors ever make and he got the privilege of being there. If he's unhappy with this setup, he can go do something else, because there are have a million people in line who would love to take his place.

It's like the old saying goes "How do you get an actor to complain"? "Give them a job".


This is the way it is. Hanks wasn't making $millions when he started and it is mainly 'star power' that gets people to leave their big screen TV and go to the theatres. Saying he was paid 'only' $65k, I wonder what that kind of money meant to him? What does the article writer 'Sergio feel Abdi should have been paid? The same millions as Hanks? How much would going to see a movie in a theatre cost then? No one would leave their big screen TVs.


I guess that's why most of them invest their money while still maintaining a average job


This article contained information for people who are unaware of the business of hollywood, but unfortunately it also made certain assumptions regarding the potential reader. 1. They are able to make the distinction between the writers thoughts versus the subject's (Barkhad abdi) views. 2. They understand that the article is talking about not just this specific actor but many actors in hollywood. 3. They are aware that rules of "showbiz" is no where similar to jobs, such as Healthcare, retail, …etc. This article is basically saying,
Even though we see a movie, such as Captain phillips, make about 200 mil (US box + world) it does not mean the main actors in the movie made anywhere related to that amount. The natural assumption is his friends and relatives probably think he is now rich. $65,000 is nowhere near rich. Yes i'm sure he was appreciative of that money he didnt have and it was able to help him and make his life a bit better, but it did not make him rich. Yes Tom Hanks took a pay cut from this film. He didn't get his 40 mil or 20 mil, but instead got 10 million, so it's only fair for outsiders to think that Barkhad being a new actor made at least 500k on this movie. This is the misconception that this article is trying to clear up, instead he (along with other no name actors in big movies) got paid next to nothing (relatively speaking) exactly 0.000325 % of the amount the movie made. Oh btw, Tom hanks only takes a pay cut up front when he feels the movie will do really well and he will be paid on the back-end, so you can add another 10-30 million to his pay.

Ignorance Lives

Opinions are like a**holes in that everyone has them, but not like them in that there are many that are totally useless. Reading is essential, people: THE ACTOR DID NOT WRITE THIS. Ergo, THE ACTOR IS NOT COMPLAINING. This is A CAUTIONARY TALE for those not in "the know" about how things work in this field.


He got paid what he was supposed to be paid. Ask him what his family is getting paid, or the black dude working at McDonalds. This article is a waste, not even sure why I read it. Should we feel sorry? C'mon it's like any other job, just because it's acting does not mean it's a major payday.


By the way, to those out there all outraged and who are saying that $65,000 sounds like a lot of money, keep in mind that a huge chunk of the money that Abdi got was no doubt sent to relatives back in Somalia which most immigrants from improverished Third World countries do to help those folks back home struggling to survive.


I wonder if hollywood broke is like anonymous broke


Two things. I don't see anywhere in here that he's saying he deserves more, etc. He did go back to working at a cell phone store, and then when accolades started rolling in he decided to take a chance and head to LA.
Also, after agent and taxes, his take home was around $45,000 plus. Still not bad, but not a crazy amount either.


I don't know all of his circumstances, but one would think he has a lousy agent if he can't get anything after that amazing performance in such a successful movie. But, as has been mentioned elsewhere 65K is pretty good jang for a complete unknown. He seems like a fine actor, he should be able to land a few more good roles.

Kee Kee

And through all the turmoil, the rediculous amount of attention, jealousy, admiration, racism, pushing and pulling, Abdi remains steadfast in his humility never once showing a single iota of selfishness , displaying a focus and strength of character which parallels his character in the film, and is most likely the reason he was cast in the first place.


Guys you do realize after Taxes, Lawyers, Managers he will walk away with about 1 third of that..


Abdi has an upcoming film where he plays a marathon runner.


$65K is alright if you have a great chance of making another film, but a somali in America—let's be real, how many roles is this guy going to get after this? They have five roles for blacks in hollywood and their all filled. End of story.


Jonah Hill got 60k for "Wolf of Wall Street," so how much do we expect Abdi to make? I'm confused. 65k is more than fair for a first time actor with zero credits. It's not the film's producer's job to make sure he's set for life. He got paid to do a job. This other stuff should be thought of as a work bonus! Why on Earth would he get back end like Tom, one of the biggest actors on the planet????


$65,000 and he still didn't get those teeth fixed? I wonder where all that money went


If it was easy everyone would be doing it.
Model in NYC lived off 13000 in a year.


I'm an actor in LA that'd give up everything for that kind of opportunity! That is actually an incredible rate for a complete unknown and it sounds to me that he didn't spend his money wisely at all. Even living in LA where the cost of living is significantly higher than where he's from, there's no way I'd blow through that amount in that period of time. PLUS, most 1st time actors are not given a per diem when going to events or living their daily life, as in their contract the salary often covers their appearance fees. This is ludicrous that he's so self-entitled after one performance. Many of us have been busting our asses to get the work we do for much much less and are able to manage our finances in a good manner.
**Hilary Swank was paid $75 a day on Boys Don't Cry in which she one an Oscar. This kid basically won the lottery & was expecting free handouts for no additional work.


I live and work in Hollywood and am pretty sure there would be a LINE of people willing to act in a feature film with Tom Hanks for $65,000 (and considerably less) – the whole film took less than 3 months to film in a beautiful location in the Mediterranean and all his costs (meals, housing, etc.) were covered while shooting – all while earning at the rate of $260,000 a year! The studios and producers took a huge risk on a no-name talent with zero acting experience and took on all the financial risk for the success of the movie – had the movie flopped and lost money the actors wouldn't chip in to help the studios out, why should it be the other way around?
Abdi did a phenomenal job on this film but should consider himself lucky: he caught a break and got paid fairly for it. If it he builds himself up and has a track record of creating great films he could start negotiating back-end deals but he has to put in his TIME… so tired of reading yet another article on entitlements…


I don't see where this is particularly newsworthy. A $65,000 payday is $15,000 above the median income an average American family makes. What I got from the story is this: Even though Abdi has been in this country for a couple of decades he still doesn't have a clear understanding of how things work in business — particularly big time business of Hollywood — in America. It's called "Show Business" for a reason.

Until an actor is working regularly, one doesn't tend to quit one's day job. And if he was actually living lean (on Ramen Noodles and such) in a cheap apartment with a couple of roommates, he could make this money last a couple of years.

It sounds like Abdi had unrealistic expectations of what would happen for him after filming wrapped on "Captain Philips." Hollywood is brutal, and only the strong survive. And from the few interviews I've seen of Abdi he's not the sharpest crayon in the box. He's like a deer caught in the headlights. I feel a little bad for him because, although he's been in the states for two decades now, he's, clearly, still a little naive about how things work here.

And it sounds like, on some level, his lack of understanding about Hollywood and its system may have set him up for this reporter to take advantage of his lack of understanding about his value, in general, as an actor.


Sounds so nice… lets say it twice… " I am constantly surprised by which articles get comments." ~ Sergio

Well, you're not alone… I just don't get it. So I re-read the post looking for "race bait" and the usual hot button items…. notta, nothing was there. Anyway, this article did bring up an interesting topic… the pay of everyone in the business. I.e., filmmakers, actors, writers, best boy, key grips, caterers, drivers, sound mixers, etc, who knows their salaries?

Granted, we hear what A-listers like Robert Downing, Will Smith, Tom Hanks and Samuel Jackson receive, but what about the rest?

Well, in regard to writers, I was listening to Kriss Turner in Tambay's podcast. She now writers for sitcoms, but I believe she said she does have a film. Of special note, she said the film was a 4 year journey, which equates to NO MONEY during that period. I believe she said that's why she has settled into the comforts of a "day job"… a weekly check. All that to say, she's at the top of the game for black writers in the business, yet, I have no clue of what type of money she makes. And again, what about cinematographers, key grips, soap opera writers and the struggling B-list actor, etc, are they living at the Salvation Army? Well Sergio,WE NEED A POST to stop all this madness. Also, some wanna-be wannna-be's parents are stacking their dollars in preparation to send their child off to college. Is film school the way to riches… or RAGS? Who is studying for a salary below poverty level (22,000 dollars) and a place in the cheese line – and don't know it? Inquiring minds gotta know! And you're obviously the perfect man for this job. Geez, 100 comments and counting… on a post about…


Life in Europe and America is very expensive, i understand Abdi situation, win an Oscar not guaranteed many role, when you won only 65000$, you can't live, he gave many days for this role, he didn't regardless to the time he take to film this movie.

I heard some people say it's enough money for example Sandra Bullock made 50 million dollars with Gravity because, she took less in her first pay, to take more with cinema box office, gravity make nearly 800 million dollars in Worldwide box office. Captain Phillip made nearly 108 million, they could give him more, the human being I’m don’t stop request better for every people who deserves. Some people said he's ugly in regardless of what? Who can say what is beautiful.

Black actors struggle because there's no role write for them, Hollywood is interested by science fiction and Marvel Blockbuster, some time they can call actors like, Samuel Jackson, Will Smith, Morgan Freeman, Don Cheadle, now Idris Elba, Omar Sy, Michael B. Jordan, don't ask them to give money for independent movie. Abdi is not different from all those black actors who need more roles to live.

Mo'Nique say Oscar don't make you live, it's a reality for actor over the world. Please stop compares everything to Africa, they are poor people in Africa like much part in the world, but all the people in Africa don't live in the poverty. Abdi don't live in Africa, you can't talk about Africa regardless him.

We need to support each other to go far away, how many of you saw Captain Phillips? I paid 11 Euros to see this movie. We just talk, we really need to ask our what we can do for ourselves before ask someone to do something for us, i buy every month more than one black film, we need to help black cinema to stay alive. None Academy, none Oscar can do that for us.

If you have problem, yell don't change anything, you can't complain to someone. I live in France and we create Black Movie entertainment to change something and our festival will have 5 years this summer, we need to act more and more to help black cinema goes mainstream, to be appreciated by black and white people. We create lumiere project to help and put the light on newcomers work.

Small thing always finish becoming big, not come when it will happen, start something and help this thing to grow.

Individually we clearly need to do more for ourselves and stop talk too much. I salute the work of Tambay, Ava Duvernay, every people who do something. We can't just live in a dream, we need to work a lot of and be ready to conquer the world. Don’t forget together we are strong.


This is life. I am a physician. I paid my dues as a resident. Worked crazy hours for little pay. Did it matter if I saved someones life or not? Did I get paid extra?
He got paid what an average actor makes for a first movie. $65,000. Thats more than I made working for a whole year as a resident. Thats more than enough.


Don't mistake the author's words for the actor's words. This is the author's story about his own opinion.


Why do so many people ASSUME there is complaining when there is actually just a statement of facts????? The author is pointing out that though it may seem he is doing well, the actor has not had many other acting jobs and his one gig at $65,000 didn't go very far due to that being the only gig and the money getting divided among managers, taxes, etc, as well as being all he had to live on since.
During awards season, the studio will give the actor a few perks while the actor does the Oscar tour. Some movies are really hyped up and pushed for Oscars while others aren't. Case in point– Dallas Buyer's Club for make up. Who even saw the other choices?? Yes the studio gave him a place to stay and a perdiem, but he still hadn't worked since Capt. Phillips. That is a fact, NOT a crybaby complaint. Stop assuming.

This article points out that unless you are at the top of the game like Tom Hanks, you might get one $65,000 or nothing at all or $6million. You may get nominated for a role you were perfect for, but there may not be any other suitable roles for you to keep going into. Plus, he didn't get hyped up until awards season, so maybe NOW he will get offers. But maybe not. Stop assuming that the actor is a cry baby unless you hear him crying directly from his own mouth. Reading comprehension seems to be a lost skill.

ignorance is bliss

"It irks me when I hear black people say".. if you're a black writer you should be ashamed for narrowing this belief down to black people specifically, when people in general tend to think like this. If you're not black, I'm offended. But either way, the comment is ignorant.


Did he actually "complain" or are the writers of these articles making observations to clarify the realities of the acting life? So much misdirected venom here. Yall need hugs.


i have to say a 65,000 pay check isnt a bad check. i wish i could get one check for 65,000. I wish him all the success in the world and hope many more gigs come his way but i cant say i feel sorry for him.

Lisa Paul

I can't agree with your premise that Sony pictures has reason to be embarrassed by their treatment of Barkhadi. Nor that Abdi's story is a sad one. At least not the piece of it presented here. He was paid well for a job that he did well. When he was needed for publicity, his expenses were paid. To imply that he needs taking care of in any other way by the studio implies that he is incapable of taking care of himself.


Cry me a river!! All of my actor friends have been at it for years…never being paid 65-thousand, never being plucked out of obscurity-they all have jobs making next to nothing, living in shitty apts. Too bad he's a cry baby, will probably never have another job. People like to work with others who are grateful, not pissed because they think they should be making what pros are making.


He did that movie a few years ago, so if he hasn't worked much since then , He MAY be broke. I remember Taraji P. Henson saying something similar when she was nominated for the Oscar. She said she wasn't getting job offers, with all the Oscar publicity. Hilary Swank was paid only $3000 for "Boys Don't Cry", and she won the Oscar , but she didn't even Qualify for SAG health benefits, because she was under the qualifyng salary. So $65k may sound like alot , but when did he receive it?


And many of us just make a few hundred for an acting role. I haven't been in a major motion picture yet, just smaller film projects. I once made about $1000 for appearing in a musical. Abdi has a great career ahead of him. I am very glad he was nominated for an Oscar. $65,000 is an awesome amount of money and I know a lot of us would love to make that for our first film role.


$65,000 and a Grammy nod out the gate…. I'm sorry what was the purpose of this article again? Pity? Sympathy? GTFOH


I don't feel sorry for a guy who made 65k for a few weeks work, has a job waiting for him back home if he ever wants it, and lives in the Beverly Hilton rent free with a driver. There are thousands of actors more talented than him who've never lived that good. No violin music here.


Happy for Lupita.

Hope that there is an X-Men origins film about Storm now and that she gets the role.


Here's the thing….would he had been given an opportunity to play a different role from a different movie…I guess takes a "specific role"…meaning for him to be a pirate to be discovered…and why is that? In order for non white actors to be discovered they have to blame ethnic themed movies…oscar caliber…in order for people to consider them for other roles in top films…the industry business is a game.


Maybe he should become a pirate.


He was paid 65K, gets flown to LA, put up in a hotel, gets a town car for a few events… and that is considered LOW?? The dude got paid twice as much for one film as I made all of last year. And frankly, he's not a great actor… unless there are other roles as Somali Pirates, this guy has no future in film. He got his 15 minutes of fame and a big pay day for it… most of the world never gets the opportunity he got!


I would be honored to be in his position; and I know he is too . I know you had to write an article because it's your job… But if you really cared about inequality ; you wouldn't be writing about the oscars . Go deeper; you're a smart writer.


The industry is like a pimp and the actors are its whores, the audience is its johns and yet we wonder what happens to the 65k this man allegedly earned. To be successful in Hollywood you better had tough skin, sexually open to all aspects, a side gig and some serious goals above and beyond that celluloid moment of fame.


That's more than most make in a year. They didn't film for a year. Why the complaining!!

Billy DaMota CSA

"Abdi was paid only $65,000, which is about average for what a first time actor is paid for a major role in a film."

Laletta. On what planet, dude? MOST first time actors get paid scale, just thrilled top be part of a huge Hollywood production. I've been casting and paying actors for 3 decades and even on bigger budget films, no one gets paid that much on their first film. And over the years it's only gotten worse.

In Africa, $65,000 is what most workers make in 20 years.

Do your research and get back to me.

Laletta Wilson

Hi abdi great job stay strong


Yeah, this article irks me quite a little, particularly the racial references. It sounds like Abdi was paid pretty well considering his experience and the role. He's also being paid for promotional appearances and duties. I would not be surprised if, two or three years from now, Abdi is back driving a cab or working in some other industry. (Perhaps he can parlay his Oscar nomination into something more lucrative outside the movie industry.) But this isn't a problem unique to black actors. The insecurity of the industry threatens actors of any color. Plenty of the female actors nominated last night have day job toiling stories before they made it – and they were far better trained and skilled than Abdi. (Amy Adams, for instance.)

Also, someone on this thread said he probably made more than what's-her-face in "12 Years a Slave." Doubtful. She's a Yale-trained actor with an intense role, heavy scenes, lots of lines. I'd bet she's pulling in six figures on that. Maybe not though. Who knows.


Why don't you all shut up and watch the oscars! Look at me! Look at me. I am the captain now.


Its more than most people make in a year so shut up and be happy !


I'd feel sorry for him if they worked him for nothing! $65,000 is not a bad payday. Plus, not many actors and actresses are guaranteed work in the industry.


Look there – and you'll surely find it fair, Sergio Mims is the problem. I mean, I don't know what it is about Sergio's writing style that has some people going coo-coo over a basic Sunday afternoon fill-in post? Heck, today, how in the world could some folks jack this–> Barkhad Abdi And The Financial Reality Of Hollywood? I mean, wow, even the teenager "Sean" caught the gist of the post–> "I think the article was simply pointing out that actors don't make the huge amount of money everyone expects them to, unless they're huge A-listers".

Yep, that's exactly what I read but what in the world did this have to do with whether or not the man is ugly? I don't know either but Sergio must have spiked the punch or worked some voo-doo because some folks have lost their way.

So Sergio, what's the secret to your success of stirring the pot when there's not pot in sight?

Um no

If there is a reboot of Gremlins he should get a call.


So instead of focusing on the fact that Barkhad Abdi goes from being a cab driver to an Oscar nominee, we look at his wallet instead. Sad. Congrats Barkhad on your achievement dear. I hope you get more work soon.

A movie lover


The reason he is not booking more roles is because he is butt ass ugly. That's why. He needs to keep his day job. Image is everything for an actor. Dude looks like sheep shit in shallow water.


What does this have to do with black actors? Most no-name actors are broke.


am i the only one that feels like he knew what he was going to get paid, so where is the problem? just like everyone else, he needs to work his way up the payscale. he is luckier than most starting actors as he got a part in a major motion picture; he got a huge opportunity. he did a great job, and so now it is up to him to make the most of this amazing situation.


This Somali guy's better not quit his job. He definitely doesn't have leading actor looks. He was lucky to have that role but he shouldnt hope to much to have a real career in the business. Come on Barkad, look for another job.


This is just stupid. He got paid the minimum rate, 65.000, got to star alongside Tom Hanks and get an Oscar nomination. If his career is not going so well it has nothing to do With either the film or the salary. And he was typecasted. Jonah Hill, an established actor, was only paid 65,000 as well in Wolf of… Point being; they both were firstimers in a BIG Production With big names, and they got publisity Worth a hell of a lot more than 65 g's… This is no big story.


Lupita and her money problems don't exist. She is a daughter of senator, she is practically royalty in Kenya, she has plenty of money.


**A voice comes across the hotel intercom**

"Call for Courtney Lilly, Kriss Turner, Kenya Barris, Jug and lastly, Bashir Salahuddin who writes for the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show, and previously for David Alan Grier's Chocolate News on Comedy Central. Also happening this year, HBO ordered a pilot of a half-hour comedy from Salahuddin."


Hey, the perils of that environment and the cutthroat nature of the business was the impetus/inspiration behind Kenya Barris's ordered pilot, called Black-ish, based on his own real life as the only black guy in the room. And come to think of it, that podcast is exactly how I see some of the early episodes of the sitcom. In the podcast the writers spoke of how excited and curious they were upon seeing another black face on the floor. So I am very excited to see how Kenya's series shapes out. He definitely knows what he's writing about.

But back to the cutthroat nature of the business, it was also interesting to hear how difficult it is for black writers to pitch a show. In short, if one is trying to pitch a "black" sitcom, I believe they said you better have a "black star" attached to the project or forget about it…. it's not gonna happen. And one said "we are the last hired and first fired."

So yeah, it's a cutthroat world out there and we are so naive about other people's business.

Good and needed post, Sergio.


Talent typically gets a % of it. I've signed dozens of SAG distribution contracts in agreement that talent will get a cut of the money back. Did his agent not make sure that happened?



Very interesting. These two actors are blessed. Lupita, from what I observed in an interview on TV, auditioned with some 1,000+ actresses for the role on "12 Years". And this gentleman, Barkhad, gave a fantastic, very realistic and riveting performance also in his first time out. I may be mistaken, but wasn't he discovered – rather than being this guy who was already acting? I do agree that if a movie does exceptionally well or better than expected financially, actors should be additionally compensated based on what's left over. But, the flip side is, these are the first projects for both and the projects they were in just so happen to be both commercially and financially viable.

I think ultimately both will be okay. Barkhad may not be positioned to be the new "it girl" they are placing Lupita in (for obvious reasons), but I can definitely see Barkhad in some other roles, similar to his role in CP, and eventually stretching into other character roles.

Maybe 10-15 years ago, my thoughts on Barkhad might be different, but considering the diverse, original programming on cable today I think he'll get offered more roles.

And now that he's in LA, he is living the life of an Actor, only he's living it in reverse – instead of being the unknown broke Actor, he's the known broke Actor – but that will be a temporary thing for him. We will definitely be seeing more of him and Lupita. He just has to be mindful of his contracts. And yes, it would be great if the studios upped his pay because his portrayal is one of the reasons that movie was watchable. The whole time I thought they plucked this man straight from Kenya, gave him an outline and just let him be himself, but when I found out he was 100% acting and then I saw him happily smiling and talking during some interview (completely opposite of the role he played) during PR for the film, I realized they had found a treasure.

Hope he and Lupita meet, form an Alliance and look out for one another in some way. Best wishes to them both at tonight's Oscars! Regardless of the outcome, let's keep rooting for them because both are not what is traditionally heralded in Hollywood as "the standard" and that's a very good thing for the world to see and for other actors coming up who can identify with them.


Let's not forget the residuals folks.

Uduak Oduok

I was just explaining this to someone who was curious on whether Lupita was making a lot of money, given her exposure or what may become a bit of an "overexposure" if it continues at the rate it is. There is nothing new here and it is indeed industry culture both from a standpoint of how much emerging talents and black talents in general are paid; and also product placement on these talents to give them and their advertisers visibility for more business opportunities and/or new customer reach.

What the likes of Lupita have is the exposure for more film roles and/or opportunities to diversify their streams of income, but they definitely have to take ownership of their personal brands and have a clear strategy on how they intend to leverage other sister industries (fashion, music) and their own (film) for personal branding and more work/business opportunities.

I would also venture to say Abdi, if he is not already doing so, should be thinking about tapping into his cultural roots and marketing himself to his country people as well as other African film industries, not just Hollywood. At a minimum, that should make a huge difference in his pocket book even as he pushes for more roles stateside.


It's interesting to read this and not think of Lupita Nyong'o. She too has only one screen credit to her name and yet her Instagram account is bombarded with photos of her team and her before every award show. Did she make that much on 12YAS that she can afford that or is it coming from her wealthy father?

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