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Tommy Dorfman says she was paid less than $30,000 for the first season of ’13 Reasons Why’: ‘This is why we strike’

Tommy Dorfman wearing red lipstick and a sparkling black top poses in front of a greenery backdrop
Tommy Dorfman revealed that she only made $29,953.24 prior to agency fees, manager fees and taxes for the first season of Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why.”
(Evan Agostini / Invision / Associated Press)
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Striking “13 Reasons Why” star Tommy Dorfman revealed Monday that she made less than $30,000 before taxes and fees and barely qualified for insurance after shooting the entire first season of the Netflix teen drama.

The actor, known for playing poet Ryan Shaver in the series, is a member of the SAG-AFTRA actor’s union currently on strike and the latest performer to reveal astoundingly low pay for a well-known body of work.

“My earnings for the entire first season of 13 reasons why were $29,953.24 prior to agency and manager fees (20%) and taxes,” Dorfman wrote on Threads. “8 episodes over six months.”

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SAG-AFTRA has approved a deal from the studios to end its historic strike. The actors were on strike for more than 100 days.

Nov. 10, 2023

”I did all of the promo and had KEY ART for this show, flew round trip from NYC to [San Francisco] to shoot for every episode, was kept for days without pay/working. i barely qualified for insurance,” the 31-year-old wrote, posting a promotional image for the show. (Actors in the guild have to earn at least $25,950 in a year, including seasonal and residuals earnings, to qualify for health plan benefits, according to 2020 figures.)

“Within the first 28 days of release, the show’s season 1 garnered a total of 476 million view hours. this is why we strike. @sagaftra,” she concluded.

Two months after its debut, the breakout hit was immediately renewed for a second season, which Dorfman also starred in. “13 Reasons Why” began streaming its fourth and final season in 2020, with some cast salaries reportedly reaching hundreds of thousands per episode, but Dorfman’s character only appeared in it in a guest spot.

Fans of the “Jane the Virgin” and “Love, Victor” star applauded Dorfman, with followers thanking her for the numerical breakdown.

In a new Time profile, ’13 Reasons Why’ actor Tommy Dorfman reintroduces herself as a trans woman after a year of documenting her transition on Instagram.

July 22, 2021

“To those of us who just consume the shows/movies etc, we only see the headline figures on how much it makes, and what the big payments are,” wrote one platform user, “we’re never really shown the breakdown of what all the other actors who make the entirety of the project earn. It’s a real eye opener when we hear the real life experiences of those who provide us so much joy in our lives”

“I love these explanations. I hope people acknowledge art is not free,” wrote another.

“That is absolutely atrocious. And goes against what most people think being a working actor is like. How little everyone knows, but I’m glad we’re all being educated now,” added another.

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“I fell in love with someone who doesn’t fetishize me,” said “13 Reasons Why” star Tommy Dorfman, who recently reintroduced herself as a trans woman.

Aug. 17, 2022

Last week, Emmy-nominated “This Is Us” star Mandy Moore shared that she made “pennies” in residuals for the NBC drama, one issue among many that the union tried to resolve in contract negotiations with Hollywood’s major studios.

While picketing at Disney’s studios in Burbank last Tuesday, Moore told the Hollywood Reporter that her business manager had informed her that she “received a residual for a penny and two pennies” as a result of NBC’s streaming deal with Hulu.

“The residual issue is a huge issue,” said Moore, who starred in six seasons of the broadcast drama. “We’re in incredibly fortunate positions as working actors having been on shows that found tremendous success in one way or another … but many actors in our position for years before us were able to live off of residuals or at least pay their bills.”

After 35 days of bargaining, talks broke down earlier this month between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios. Major contractual sticking points — including over basic pay, streaming residuals and the threat of artificial intelligence — persisted throughout the talks, The Times reported, preventing a breakthrough to reach a historic accord.

On July 13, the actors’ union joined members of the Writers Guild of America in a historic double strike that is disrupting the film and TV industry.

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