Former Teen Star Reveals How Much She Really Earned—And How She Lost Millions

Grey's Anatomy actor Adelaide Kane broke down her salary and expenses in a viral TikTok.

Australian actor Adelaide Kane has played roles on the popular series Reign and Teen Wolf and is not part of the Grey's Anatomy cast. As a teen, she appeared on the long-running Australian soap opera Neighbours. But being a successful actor who works consistently in the entertainment industry doesn't automatically make a person wealthy, as Kane broke down for her followers in a video.

In a TikTok that went viral in 2020 and recently resurfaced on Twitter, Kane, now 32, broke down how much she had made in her career up until that point and all of the job-related expenses that meant that she didn't actually pocket much of what she earned. Read on to see what the star had to say.

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Kane's U.S. breakout was in the historical series Reign.

After first finding success as a young actor in her native Australia, Kane moved to the U.S. to take on acting roles. She came to fame playing Mary, Queen of Scots in the CW series Reign, which ran for four seasons from 2013 to 2017. Kane has also appeared in episodes of Once Upon a Time, This Is Us, and SEAL Team. In 2022, the actor began playing Dr. Jules Millin on Grey's Anatomy.

She estimated that she had made $5 million by 2020.

In the August 2020 TikTok video—which has since been deleted but is available on Twitter—Kane responds to a comment that reads, "But u were on reign and it says they paid u 15k for each episode." She had previously posted a video in which she said (via, "I found out today the internet thinks I'm worth $4 million. My crippling debt says otherwise."

Kane explains in the clip, "Generally speaking SAG [Screen Actors Guild] minimum for a series regular on a network show is 20 grand per episode. So say I did 78 episodes on Reign, that pares out to $1.56 million for four years of work."

She estimates in the video that she had made $5 million across her entire acting career, beginning when she was 16. Then, she explains where that money went.

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She detailed the expenses related to being an actor.

Adelaide Kane at the CBS Television Studio Summer Soiree in 2016
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

In the video, Kane lists the people who had to be paid a percentage of that $5 million.

"Here is how that breaks down: 10 percent goes to my agent, 10 percent goes to my manager, five percent goes to my lawyer, five percent goes to my business manager, and then I get taxed a further 30 percent, because I am a foreign national working in the U.S. So, I was 60 percent right off the bat, which leaves me with about $2.2 million over the last 14 years. Which, if you average it out, comes down to $178,000-ish a year." (Forty percent of $5 million is $2 million, which divided by 14 is around $142,000.)

She doesn't get to keep much of what's left over, either.

Adelaide Kane at the Entertainment Weekly SAG Awards pre-party in 2019
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Kane says in the TikTok that this amount of money "would be fine, good wage," if she didn't have additional expenses.

"I have to pay rent in major cities, sometimes in two cities at once," she says. "I have to pay a publicist, which is usually $2,000 to $3,000 per month. When I've had social media teams, that's been around two grand a month. Stylists run anywhere from $700 to $1,500 an outfit. And hair and makeup is about $1,000."

She posted the video to clear up the misconception that all known actors are rich.

Adelaide Kane at 2023 PaleyFest
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

In a December 2022 interview with Nylon, Kane spoke about the viral TikTok, why she made it, and the reaction it got. She said that she "grew up with very little money" and was "broke as a joke" when she moved to Los Angeles. She wanted to share an account of what the financial situation is like for an actor at her level.

"I know that for most people my takeaway is more than they earn in three years, and I have absolute understanding and appreciation for that," she said. "That video wasn't like, 'Oh, woe is me.' It was just like, 'Hey, totally hear you. Actors earn a lot of money, but it is that classic thing: More money, more problems.'"

She also addressed comments she received saying she could choose to cut down on certain things, like working with stylists. "[Y]ou could absolutely do that," she said. "But unfortunately, participating in 'celebrity' is something you have to do if you want to go and sit at fashion shows, if you want to be featured in magazines like Nylon, you do have to participate in that world."

Kane explained that she thinks famous actors don't talk about money because they "do earn so much" compared to people in other fields. "I think in a world where there is such intense class division and there are so many people living below the poverty line who cannot afford healthy food, who cannot even afford healthcare," she continued. "If you are a high earner and you are talking about money, people will [expletive] come for you because capitalism's crippling everybody and it's not fair."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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