Does Crystal the Monkey Earn More Than Sofia Vergara?

by Patrick Mahaney on November 13, 2014

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It’s well-known that successful actors and actresses can make an astonishingly large amount of money on an annual or career-long basis. What about their animal counterparts? How much money do dogs, cats, and other species we see on television and movie screens make in comparison to human talent?

According to Forbes, the highest paid TV actress of 2014 is Sophia Vergara, who made a whopping $37 million from June 2013 to July 2014 tops the list for the third straight year. Vergara earns $325,000 per episode for her starring role in ABC’s Modern Family, but she also has many lucrative endorsement deals including Diet Pepsi, CoverGirl, Head & Shoulders, AT&T, and the hypothyroidism medication Synthroid.

Vergara even makes more than the top-earning male TV actor, as Forbes reports Two and a Half Men star Ashton Kutcher pulled in $26 million for the same time span. Kutcher’s earnings also come from his tech-savvy investing, which brought in $3 million over from a multi-year contract with tablet-manufacturer Lenovo.

The ability for Vergara and Kutcher to make such high-dollar salaries depends on their overall popularity and the success of their television projects. As noted above, there can be many profitable side projects for top billing Hollywood talent.  So, how does earnings game apply to animal actors?

Do Animals Earn More Than People?

In some cases, animal actors earn more than their human counterparts. Generally, it is the other way around, but there are some instances where animals rule.

One well-known animal actor is Crystal the Monkey, who appeared in nine episodes of NBC’s Animal Practice.  Did you see the now-defunct show? You certainly didn’t miss much, but Crystal was one of the highlights. I weighed in on the show for petMD’s The Daily Vet in the article How the Veterinary Profession is Portrayed by NBC’s Animal Practice, as the program certainly wasn’t very complimentary to veterinarians and our support staff dedicate our lives to providing pet health services.

Anyway, Hollywood Reporter reveals Crystal’s earnings for her role in nine episodes of Animal Practice be a substantial $108,000, which works out to $12,000 per episode and is more than double the average actor’s earnings of $52,000 (according to SAG-AFRTA). Crystal has also appeared in movies, including Night at the Museum, The Hangover Part II, and We Bought a Zoo (big surprise here!) which further increases her future marketability.

Reportedly, then daily rate for a canine or feline actor in Hollywood is $400 and most animal actors earn between $5,000 to $10,000 annually. This amount sounds like barely enough to cover housing, food, and veterinary care in pricey Los Angeles and certainly won’t fund a luxurious dog house or kitty condo.

How Can An Animal Become an Actor?

When it comes down to it, any owner can make his companion animal an on-screen star with enough determination. After all, it’s not as though a dog or monkey decides for herself to be the next top animal television star.  Getting help from an agency and a few fortunate breaks seems to be part of the mix as well.

Since Los Angeles is truly the entertainment capital of the world, there are multiple agencies that represent pet and help to find them media opportunities.

Hollywood Paws — Animal Talent Agency is “is an exclusive training facility and the very first of its kind. We provide the average pet owner the opportunity to train and prepare their family pet for work in film, television, commercials and print.” Hollywood Paws trains both canines and felines and features their “Graduate” Dog Actors and “Graduate” Cat Actors on their site.

Le PAWS (Pets At Work On Set) offers canine owners “an opportunity to see your dog working in a commercial, working on a Feature Film, doing a T.V. show or a Print Ad Campaign.” Le PAWS it appears to only represent canine talent and organizes the dogs into small, medium, large, and extra large categories for easy browsing.

Top Dog Talent Agency is “a prestigious company that has already accomplished the year’s hottest credits, with over 4,600 of Hollywood’s talented animal actors.” Top Dog Talent Agency also works with cats, including Cinderella, a silver-tipped, three-year-old, female Persian hailing from New Orleans, LA who has special skills including “go to a mark, sit, sit up, go to a buzzer, and meow on command.”  She’s been in movies, television ads, and even made an appearance in a Lady Gaga music video. Go Cinderella!

So, perhaps you can put your pet in the running to supersede Crystal and potentially compete with Vergara and Kutcher for top earning actor regardless of species. I wish you luck in such an endeavor and would support your efforts through my veterinary services if you are in the Los Angeles area.

Thank you for reading this article.  Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond).
Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.

Copyright of this article (2014) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format. 

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