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Sabrina's Luke Cook Opens Up About Surprisingly Modest Earnings As An Actor

When the 160,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) began striking on July 14, they joined the 11,500 Writers Guild of America (WGA) members who had been striking since May, making it the first time both unions coincidentally went on strike since 1960.

Some fans, however, have proven to be more skeptical of the striking actors than their writer counterparts, in part owing to the inflated paychecks of A-listers. "Nothing like millionaires striking to be even bigger millionaires," one person wrote on TikTok.

Luke Cook, who is perhaps best known for playing Lucifer on Netflix's "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," took issue with that comment and replied with his own TikTok video. In Cook's video, he broke down who exactly is being impacted by the strike. "My name is Luke Cook," the actor said. "And I am not a millionaire. I drive a 2010 Mazda and my previous car was a 2006 Ford Taurus." As he explained, Cook represents the vast majority of SAG members. "95 percent of people in SAG cannot make a living from acting; they have to have side hustles. I am one of those actors."

Cook went on to say that most people assume the striking SAG members are either series regulars, who receive top dollar, or superstars. "The actors who surround them though are actors like myself — guest stars, costars, etc. We are paid chips."

Cook emphasized that most actors on strike aren't millionaires

In Luke Cook's impassioned TikTok video, the actor broke down what his salary looks like for fans who are skeptical of the actors' strike. "I get paid per episode, which is two weeks of work, $7,500. Then it is taxed and a manager takes 10 percent, an agent takes 10 percent, and a lawyer takes 5 percent," he said. "I am one line below a series regular who is maybe making $100,000, sometimes, per episode."

Cook, who is also known for roles in "Katy Keene" and "Dynasty," was forthcoming about how actors are often exploited once the cameras are off, both in terms of streaming residuals and in marketing. He admitted that he was on a billboard on Sunset Boulevard advertising the Hulu series "Dollface," in which he had a recurring role. "Do you know how much they paid me to be on the billboard? Zero," he said.

Indeed, actors, as well as WGA members, have been coming forward to shed light on the reality of their financial precarity. The majority of SAG members, for instance, don't qualify for the union's health insurance plan, which requires a minimum salary of $26,470.

"This discussion isn't about millionaires," Cook summarized. "As someone who always has a side job, I think it would be great to get paid better money to be on your favorite shows... I shouldn't have to have two side jobs just in order to survive."

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. To learn more about why writers and actors are currently on strike, click here for an up-to-date explainer from our Looper team.