Everyone loves a child star. Kids are an important part of the entertainment industry, but just because they’re pint sized doesn’t mean they’re not raking in the cash! From your favorite vintage shows like “Diffr’nt Strokes” and the classic movies of Shirley Temple, to modern day hits like “iCarly” and “Hannah Montana”, find out exactly how much these beloved child stars actually make!
Miranda Cosgrove raked in a shocking $180,000 per episode for her starring role on the Nickelodeon series iCarly!
Macaulay Culkin first made his way into our hearts by starring in the film Home Alone, for which he was paid a relatively measly $100,000. After the film’s huge success, Macaulay’s salary steadily grew – he was paid $4.5 million for Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, $8 million for Getting Even With Dad, and another $8 million for Richie Rich. Nowadays, Macaulay is pretty much retired from acting and prefers to live his life out of the spotlight.
Lindsay Lohan’s first breakthrough acting role came in the Parent Trap reboot, for which she was paid a total of $125,000. Her asking price rose to a whopping $550,000 for the movie Freaky Friday. The movie was a major box office smash, and building off the success of that film, her salary rose to $1 million for Mean Girls and Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen. Not bad for a girl who was still technically underage at the time!
Seth Carr isn’t even a teenager yet, but at just 10 years old, he’s well on his way to retirement! Seth has recently come into the public eye because of his breakout role in the smash hit movie Black Panther. His contract stated that he was to be paid $1,000 a day for his work. However, it’s not clear exactly how many days he worked on set, but we’re sure we’ll be seeing more of this young talent soon.
Frankie Muniz is best known for his unforgettable role as Malcolm on the smash hit sitcom Malcolm In The Middle. Even though he was just a youngster, he had refined enough acting chops to earn him an Emmy and a Golden Globe nomination. He started off the series earning $30,000 an episode, but by the end of the show’s run, Frankie was raking in a cool $120,000 per episode! He then was paid $7 million for the movie Agent Cody Banks!
You might not think of Taylor Lautner, whose known as much for his impressive physique as his major role in the Twilight series, as a child actor, but technically, he was! He was just 16 years old when he was cast as Jacob Black in Twilight, a role for which he earned $25 million (including his residuals from the films.) He was considered such a bankable star that he was paid $7.5 million for his next film, Northern Lights.
Selena Gomez may be more well known for her pop hits “Come And Get It” and “Good For You” as well as her relationship with teen super star Justin Bieber, but Selena’s career actually started way back on Disney Channel. She starred as Alex Russo on the series “The Wizards Of Waverly Place.” She was quite the cash cow, making the show #1 on Disney and she was paid accordingly, earning $25,000 per episode! Nowadays, she’s selling out arenas.
Dakota Fanning was acting from the time she was in diapers, making her public debut in a children’s clothing catalogue when she was just a year and a half old. But her big breakthrough came when she starred opposite Sean Penn in i am sam. Afterwards, she started charging a minimum of $4 million per picture – a lot for a ten year old girl! That’s not including the money that she made modeling for The Gap and Marc Jacobs.
The Olsen Twins
Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen are some of the most succesful child stars on this list, becoming millionaires by age 7. The two got their start on Full House starring as Michelle Tanner, for which initially they were paid a paltry $2,500 per episode. As the series increased in popularity, they got a raise to $25,000, and by the end of the series, they were making $80,000 an episode – each! After that came direct to video movies which earned them millions.
Shirley Temple was the first big child movie star. She was discovered by a Hollywood agent when he spotted her dancing in a movie theater lobby. Initially, she signed a contract that didn’t benefit her much, but after 3 succesful movies she renegotiated and ended up being paid around $1.8 million a year (adjusted for inflation.) After her time in show business came to a close, Shirley had the honor of serving as the United States Ambassador to Czechoslovakia and Ghana!
Abigail Breslin rose to fame and stole our hearts when she starred as Olive in the sleeper hit Little Miss Sunshine. Abigail is quite the cash cow – her movies consistently rake in millions, so executives aren’t shy about paying her accordingly. Leaked Los Angeles County tax documents showed that at the young age of 15, Abigail was paid $275,000 for filming a week’s worth of scenes for the movie New Year’s Eve. That breaks down to almost $40,000 a day!
Rico Rodriguez came from a working class background in Texas, far away from the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown – he grew up with 4 brothers and sisters in a modest neighborhood, where his parents owned a local tire shop. After being cast as Manny Delgado on Modern Family, Rico’s life changed dramatically. At first, he earned $25,000 for every 5 episodes – but now he, along with the other kids on the show, makes over $100,000 per episode!
Gary Coleman was 10 years old when he was thrust into the spotlight as the star of Diffrn’t Strokes, playing Arnold Jackson, the adopted son of a wealthy businessman. The show was on the air for years and pulled in huge audiences, and Gary was paid accordingly. He started off making $1,500 an episode, but after the series increased in popularity, Gary ended up raking in $70,000 an episode and amassing a fortune of $18 million by the time he was an adult.
Brooke Shields, in many ways, had a classic “child star” upbringing – her mom was her manager, and according to many sources, was relentless in pushing Brooke into the spotlight as early and often as possible. Brooke started modeling when she was still in diapers, and was in many TV commercials and catalogues. But her big break through came in the controversial film “Pretty Baby,” where at the age of 12, she was paid $250,000 – a huge sum back in 1982.
Emma Watson was just ten years old when she was cast as smart and assertive heroine Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film franchise. It was a commitment to eight movies which would mean that she wouldn’t have a normal childhood, but Emma’s parents decided it was worth it for her to participate. Like Daniel Radcliffe previously on this list, she was paid in increasing increments for each movie, and by the end of the eight movies, she made $60 million!
Besides being born the daughter of country crooner Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley Cyrus made a name for herself by starring on the Disney channel series Hannah Montana. The Hannah Montana movie grossed an astonishing $31 million in its opening weekend alone! So it’s no surprise that although she was just a teenager at the time, Disney ended up paying Miley around $15,000 per episode – which means she made about $1.5 million during the four seasons the TV show ran.
Angus T. Jones
Though “Two and A Half Men,” starring Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer is hardly Shakespeare, it was consistently the highest rated sitcom on TV, averaging 15 million viewers an episode during its time on the air. The “Half Man”, child actor Angus T. Jones, was instrumental to the show’s success and he was definitely paid accordingly – in the final season of the show, he was paid $300,000 an episode! However, Angus is now out of the spotlight and attending college in Colorado.
Nowadays, Amanda Bynes is in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. After a few run ins with the law and struggles with her mental health, you may have forgotten that Amanda was once one of the most popular child actresses out there. Having started off modeling diapers, she was added to the cast of Nickelodeon sketch comedy show “All That” at the age of 10, and by age 14 was starring in The Amanda Show, for which she got $20,000 an episode!
Most kids at age 12 are making money from lemonade stands or getting an allowance from their parents. But for sixth grader Rowan Blanchard, after being cast in the reboot of the classic sitcom Boy Meets World, a child’s pocket change isn’t anything close to what she was earning. She made $10,000 an episode for the series, which came out to a grand total of $210,000 for the series! She also added a clause in her contract for a raise every season.
Mayim Bialik is well known nowadays for her role as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory and the fact that she’s actually a neuroscientist in real life. But she got her start on the sitcom Blossom, where she was paid $10,000 an episode! The actress recently shared on social media a funny photo of a residuals check she got for a 1990 appearance on Doogie Howser, M.D. – the snap showed that she received a check for two cents!
Shia LaBeouf was definitely not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. In multiple interviews he has stated that he started acting not because he was passionate about the craft, but because he wanted to help support his “broke family.” His first big role came on the Disney Channel show “Even Stevens” which ran for three seasons. He got $100,000 a season for his role, which is a pretty good chunk of change for a 13 year old kid!
Quvenzhané Wallis has the honor of being one of the youngest actresses ever nominated for an Academy Award, which happened when she was only 9 years old. But her biggest breakthrough financially has come after she agreed to star in an Annie reboot. She added a special clause in the contract that states if the film makes more than $145 million domestically, she’ll receive a bonus of her initial paycheck – meaning, she’ll get her $750,000 salary twice!
It wasn’t that difficult for Jaden Smith to break into Hollywood – his dad is the rapper turned box office royalty Will Smith! Jaden’s first appearance on the big screen came starring opposite his dad in the smash hit The Pursuit Of Happyness, for which the ten year old was paid $1 million. That may sound like a small amount, but Jaden put several stipulations in his contract to rake in the cash – a bonus if the film grossed over a certain amount.
Natalie Portman is well known nowadays as a major A-List Hollywood star, who won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her starring role in the movie Black Swan, as well as dramatic turns in films like Closer and No Strings Attached. But one of her first big roles was that of Queen Padmé Amidala, the mother of Luke Skywalker and Leia, in the Star Wars prequels. Natalie was paid $250,000 per movie and is worth more than $54 million today.
Victoria Justice quickly became a fan favorite on Zoey 101, a show that starred Britney Spears’ younger sister Jamie Lynn Spears. As her popularity grew, so did her paycheck – Victoria was paid $50,000 per episode on the series! Soon, Nickelodeon executives decided to give Victoria her own show, called Victorious. Victoria’s contracted stated that she be paid $100,000 an episode for the first few seasons, with periodic raises. Her net worth today is estimated somewhere around a whopping $10 million.
Dylan & Cole Sprouse
Dylan and Cole Sprouse are the best known blonde twins since Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. Their big break through came when they were cast as the stars in their own Disney Channel original TV series called The Suite Life of Zach and Cody. They were paid $20,000 each per episode. Dylan and Cole are also clever merchandisers: they have a line of boys’ clothing, as well as magazines and comic books, which helps them keep raking in the cash.
Chandler Riggs is just 17 years old, but is already one of the best known actors on TV due to his part in the smash hit series The Walking Dead. Chandler originally took on the role agreeing to be paid $30,000 an episode, but his contract had a clause which stated if the show was succesful, his salary would go up every season. Now that the show is on season 8, we’re pretty sure he’s raking in somewhere around $100,000 an episode.
You’ll be stunned by just how much money Harry Potter franchise star Daniel Radcliffe was paid for his role in the films! For the first Harry Potter movie he was paid a modest $145,000. For the second movie, his salary shot up to $3 million, and for the third film, he was paid a grand total of $6 million. By the time of the two part final movie Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows he was paid $20 million!
Jake Lloyd was paid three separate times for his role as the young Anakin Skywalker in George Lucas’ Star Wars prequel trilogy: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Episode 2: Attack Of The Clones, and Episode 3: Revenge Of The Sith. The young actor was only ten years old when he was cast in the career-making part. For each movie, he was paid $250,000, as well as a minuscule percentage of the film’s profits. His net worth is around $4 million today.