Telenovela Stars Make Such Little Money That Some are Forced to Have Crazy Side Jobs

Pablo Azar/Uber Driver
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Pablo Azar is a telenovela star by day and Uber driver by night. 

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The 34-year-old spoke to The New York Times about having to be an Uber driver in order to pay his bills because his gig as a telenovela star just isn't cutting it. 

“At first, I was ashamed of this,” he said. “Our fans from Latin America who watch novelas, they think we are millionaires and that we drive Ferraris and live in Beverly Hills.”

Azar said many actors struggle to made ends meat because they just don't make enough money from being on telenovelas. The telenovelas he has worked on are produced by Telemundo, which is owned by NBCUniversal and based in Miami. The TV show's the media giant produces are in Spanish so it makes it easier to argue that the shows are different from others produced in the United Sates, according to The New York Times. This allows Telemundo to resist the pressure from SAG-Aftra, the industry's union, which is trying to push the company to an agreement. 

“We remain committed to making Telemundo a great place to work for our employees and continue to invest in them to ensure their salaries and working conditions are competitive,” Alfredo Richard, the senior vice president for NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, said. 

Telemundo is actually the only large network in the United States that hires actors but doesn't produce its shows under union contracts. 

“It’s a double standard,” Steve Sidawi, the union’s national director for organizing, said. “This is something that is fundamentally a social justice issue for us.”

Katie Barberi who is famous in the telenovela scene is a member of the SAG-Aftra and concurred that the struggle can be very real for actors. 

“In telenovelas, they can kill your character off in the middle of the shoot and you are paid that day, and it’s over,” she said. 

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This is an issue that needs to come to light and we hope it changes.