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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]

SAG-AFTRA rules[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]


  1. ^ Cummings, Betsy (July 25, 2004). "HOME FRONT; Bit Parts on Screen, and a Salary to Match". The New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2012. 
  2. ^ Speaking of soap operas By Robert Clyde Allen. Books.google.com. 1985-04-30. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  3. ^ Added by Double 19 Productions on May 19, 2009 at 1:01am (2009-05-19). "Resume Billing Double 19 Productions May 19, 2009". Double19productions.com. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  4. ^ a b c 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. ^ a b 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.