Zendaya plays a troubled, drug-addicted teen in the series which debuted in 2019. Euphoria is believed to have started filming for its third season, expected in 2024. The former Disney star, 26, has received numerous accolades for the role, including two Emmys, making her the youngest actress to ever win in the Best Actress category.
The salary puts Zendaya in the rare air of actors and actresses on both network and streaming outlets that have cracked the $1 million mark per episode. According to Puck, John Krasinski is likely in the top tier of paydays for his work on Amazon’s Jack Ryan at an estimated $2 million per episode. Jack Ryan and Euphoria both have eight-episode seasons.
Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston are reportedly the highest-paid women on streaming TV, paid $2 million per episode for two 10-episode seasons of The Morning Show on AppleTV+.
Kevin Costner is also being paid in the millions per episode range for his starring role on Paramount+’s big hit Yellowstone, as are Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren for its spinoff 1923.
But while Zendaya’s payday likely puts her among streaming’s top earners, turns out that network TV is still a good place to be. For example, Mariska Hargitay’s 531 episodes as Capt. Olivia Benson on Law and Order SVU has reportedly earned her over $540,000 each, putting her near the top as one of the highest-paid women over time on network television (or any television).
Right behind her is Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo, who’s been on the show since its 2005 debut. She is now pulling in $575,000 per episode and producer credit after a 2018 salary upgrade. Both of those stalwarts average 22 episodes per season as do most network TV shows.
Among Black women though, Zendaya’s per-episode rate is the highest. But over time, other actresses have earned much more. In 2022, Law & Order star S. Epatha Merkerson who played Lt. Anita Van Buren for 17 years, held the title of the Black actress with the most TV episodes – 388 – under her belt. And after 155 episodes on Chicago Med, Merkerson’s bank account should still be straight.
(Her former co-star, Ice T, now holds the record as the longest-running Black actor on TV for Law & Order: SVU).
But Grey’s Anatomy’s Chandra Wilson, whose been on the series since 2005, is likely one of TV’s highest-paid Black TV actresses ever. She’s eclipsed Merkerson this year at 409 episodes and counting as the Black actress with the longest tenure on any TV show.
However, it’s Angela Bassett, or as the MCU better knows her, Queen Ramonda, who wins the per-episode paycheck derby, very possibly setting a record for Black actors on network television in 2022 after renegotiating her 9-1-1 contract to earn $450,000 an episode. Based on that number, she is now on track to make the most money of any Black actor or actress in a season in TV history.
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