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Tuesday, 12 December, 2000, 19:55 GMT
Actors struggle to scrape a wage
Hugh Grant
Hugh Grant: One of the few British actors who can command a high fee
The majority of actors earn less than 10,000 a year from their profession, according to a survey.

Performers' trade union Equity - with Leeds Metropolitan University - questioned 408 of its members and found that 72% earned below that amount.

In addition, only 4% who took part in the on-going research earned between 50,000 and 10,000 a year.

In a preliminary analysis of the findings - published in this month's Equity Journal - the university's Dr Barry King said "low status of the craft" of acting was part of the problem.

Envy

Actors were asked how they felt the public saw them and their profession. Their responses showed a measure of pessimism in the trade.

Performers felt they were seen either as "glamorous, arrogant, overpaid slackers" or "laughable luvvies" and felt acting was not perceived to be a proper job.

They felt theatre was viewed particularly poorly, with the public imagining them as "boring old Shakespearian actors".

The actors surveyed deplored the fact that they got "no respect because of the antics of some high profile stars" and said they suffered from being "envied for success and scorned for failure".

The analysis of the findings points to the growth of "celebrity gossip journalism" and how it feeds public interest in the private life of artists.

As a consequence, performers are seen as ordinary people who happen to have "natural flair" rather than a learned acting skill.

Dr King agreed that the public did not see acting as a "proper profession", and said this might explain why so many actors found it difficult to make a living in the trade.

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