• Insider asked entertainment workers from all crafts to share how they live and work in the industry.
  • A literary manager’s assistant, an office PA, a script coordinator, and an accountant spoke with us.
  • “It feels like I’m in an abusive relationship with the love of my life,” said one staffer of their job.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Working in the entertainment industry has a unique and powerful allure with its proximity to fame, wealth, art, and glamour. 

But beneath Hollywood’s glittery surface are thousands of cogs in the machine, from assistants to lighting technicians to costume designers to studio executives — some paid handsomely for their efforts, others far less so. 

The recent IATSE strike authorization vote, with tens of thousands of below-the-line professionals willing to put a work stoppage on the table in their union’s negotiations with the major studios (represented by the AMPTP), reveals how burned out many are by punishing hours and work conditions. 

joined the AMPTP in July; other major streamers such as Apple TV+ and Amazon Studios are not members.

Insider asked entertainment industry professionals from all positions and crafts — some unionized, some not — to share how they make ends meet in the industry, their workload, and how they feel about their career trajectory. 

Support staffers who responded felt particularly worn thin, due to low pay and career progress stalled by the pandemic.

“The reason I’m working for a pittance, racking up debt, subsisting on writers’ room snacks and half-sandwiches writers throw away — yes, I’ve dug their sandwich out of the trash and I am proud of it because I did what I had to do — is to keep working and maybe get my shot,” said one assistant-level worker. “But the shots come less and less now.”

Compiled here are monthly earnings and expenses for four workers on varied rungs of the Hollywood ladder: an assistant to a literary manager (a manager for film and TV writers), a production assistant in Atlanta, a script coordinator who recently left the workforce, and an accountant who works on major network TV series. 

All workers were granted anonymity so they could speak freely, and Insider reviewed documentation confirming pay and other major items (some budget items were estimated by the workers and their comments have been condensed and edited for clarity).

To participate in Insider’s Hollywood Salary Diaries, email [email protected] with the subject line “Hollywood Salary Diary.” We’ll contact you from there to send you a template so you can start tracking your salary and budget. Here’s how it works.