Cast members of the Broadway smash hit Hamilton marked International Women’s Day by donating their salaries from Wednesday night’s performance to Dress for Success, a global charity that supports women entering the workforce.
Audience members found inserts in their programs noting the occasion and explaining how the cast decided to honor the holiday. “We thank all the women in this building for being here today and celebrating with us,” the insert read.
The gesture comes from performers who are thought to be among Broadway’s best-paid. The minimum weekly salary for Broadway performers is $1,900, and lead actors receive a $500 raise for a Tony nomination. Hamilton won 11 Tony Awards in 2016, just shy of the record.
Beyond that, some Hamilton cast members are part of a profit-sharing deal that resulted from their fight for a piece of the show’s financial success. Last spring, they successfully petitioned the “billion-dollar” show’s producers for a cut of the net profits. After protracted negotiations with management, and threats to walk if their demands weren’t met, 22 members of the original cast secured what some have called “Broadway’s best deal.”
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The profit-sharing agreement gave each of them 1% of net profits from Hamilton’s New York run, as well as 0.33% of profits from performances in Chicago and all other U.S. locations. An expanded deal now includes about 16 additional cast and crew members. When the parties reached the original agreement in June 2016, Hamilton was generating $600,000 in profit per week; creator Lin-Manuel Miranda took home about $6.4 million last year. According to The New York Times, the cast’s profit-sharing agreement will generate at least $312,000 per year split between the 38 cast and crew, equalling about $8,200 per person.
The cast members’ decision to demand a cut of the profits came after difficult deliberations, the protracted nature of which is captured in a Bloomberg report on the how the deal came to be.
“We are more like the men (and women dammit!) in our show than I personally have ever allowed myself to explore, especially in the messiest moments of last night,” an understudy, Sasha Hutchings, e-mailed a colleague after an evening of tense negotiations, according to Bloomberg. “They forged a way where there was no precedent, just as we are striving to do now. It’s messy, and scary, but possible.”
The hard fight the cast undertook to secure their compensation makes the decision to donate part of it all the more meaningful. At the end of the show last night, the cast invited female crew members, clad in red in honor of International Women’s Day, onto the stage. Together, they shouted, “Happy International Women’s Day!”