An under-five,[1] also known as an under-5 or a U/5,[2] is a television or film actor whose character has fewer than five lines of dialogue.[3] The term is used in SAG-AFTRA contracts and has been used when referring to performers in a daytime soap opera.


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. UNC Press Books. p. 53. Retrieved 2012-01-04. under-5 soap opera.
  3. ^ "Resume Billing Double 19 Productions". Double 19 Productions. May 19, 2009. 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". Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  6. ^ "When An Actor Should Join A Union". 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. Retrieved April 30, 2016. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)