An under-five,[1] also known as an under-5 or a U/5,[2] is a SAG-AFTRA contract term for an American television or film actor whose character has fewer than five lines of dialogue.[3]


An under-five role falls between an extra (a nonspeaking role) and a day player (a full part). Per SAG-AFTRA, for an under-five the total number of words in the five lines or less must be below 50. Exceeding this reclassifies the role as a full part, which constitutes a substantial rise in pay. An extra may be upgraded to under-five status if they interact with principals or are given direction in a way that furthers the plot.[4][5]

Prior to the 2012 merger of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), actors performing as under-fives as members of AFTRA became eligible for SAG membership after one year.[4][6] Post merger, actors performing with an under-five contract operate as members of the consolidated union.

Through November 16, 2016, the minimum pay rate for an under-five actor on a soap opera is $451 for a one-hour show, and $369 for a 12-hour show. By comparison, the minimum pay rate for a principal on a soap opera is $1,038 for a one-hour show, and $778 for a 12-hour show. The pay rate for a background actor on a soap opera is $150 for a 1-hour show, and $115 for a 12-hour show.[7]

Under-five work

An under-five role can be a stepping stone to bigger roles.[4][8] However, with the general decline of American soap operas, the number of under-fives, extras, and even day players employed has declined, due to reductions of production budgets.[5]

See also


  1. Cummings, Betsy (July 25, 2004). "HOME FRONT; Bit Parts on Screen, and a Salary to Match". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  2. Allen, Robert Clyde (April 30, 1985). Speaking of Soap Operas. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  3. "Resume Billing Double 19 Productions". Double 19 Productions. May 19, 2009. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  4. Lenhart, Jennifer. "As The World Turns Interview: Patrick Stephenson". Soap Opera Digest. Archived from the original on January 30, 2009. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  5. Ciaccia, Maria (January 30, 2009). "On the Scene at General Hospital". Generalhospital.about.com. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  6. "When An Actor Should Join A Union". Actorschecklist.com. December 1, 2007. Archived from the original on February 13, 2015. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  7. "SAG-AFTRA Network TV Code" (PDF). SAG-AFTRA. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  8. Kanner, Bernice (August 16, 1993). SOAP STAR FOR A DAY. New York. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
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