Only two percent of actors earn a living, report shows

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·Contributor
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 09: Matthew McConaughey attends the "The Beach Bum" Premiere 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Paramount Theatre on March 09, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW)
Matthew McConaughey attends the "The Beach Bum" Premiere 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Paramount Theatre on March 09, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW)

Just two percent of jobbing actors make enough to earn a living, a new report has shown.

Mathematicians at London's Queen Mary University worked up figures dating back to the 1880s to come the their conclusion, studying almost 2.5 million screen actors.

It also found that 90 percent of actors in the notoriously turbulent profession are unemployed at any one time.

Meanwhile, 70 percent of actors will have a career that lasts for just one year.

Read more: More young women go to the cinema than men, study shows

The study's author Oliver Williams, who published the findings in the journal Nature Communications, said: “Only a select few will ever be awarded an Oscar or have their hands on the walk of fame, but this is not important to the majority of actors and actresses who simply want to make a living which is probably a better way of quantifying success in such a tough industry.

“Our results shed light on the underlying social dynamics taking place in show business and raise questions about the fairness of the system.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 15: John Travolta arrives at the The Academy Presents "Grease" (1978) 40th Anniversary at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on August 15, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 15: John Travolta arrives at the The Academy Presents "Grease" (1978) 40th Anniversary at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on August 15, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

“Our predictive model for actors is also far from the randomness that is displayed for scientists and artists.”

The data for the research came from IMDb, using the information from the careers of 1.5 million male actors and 800,000 females, dating all the way back to the first silent movie, Roundhay Garden Scene, from 1888.

Read more: Dark Phoenix is getting panned

The study also uncovered gender biases among the data, with men more likely to weather a cold streak and make a comeback, with actresses finding it much harder to maintain careers as they age.

Actors like Matthew McConaughey and John Travolta have experienced lengthy periods having fallen out of favour, only to be re-embraced years later.

Williams added: “There is a sign of gender bias. We see that men tend to recover from cold streaks better than women do”.

In fact, the study says that it can predict with 85 percent accuracy whether an actor has reached their peak of productivity or whether they're past their best already.

Williams went on to say: “If I were to give a piece of advice based on my findings, I would say just do more jobs and you’ll get more jobs.”