by Jessica Isaac
Living 3 miles from the Dolby Digital Theater in Hollywood, it’s impossible for me to ignore film awards season. Hollywood Blvd, the lifeline of Tinseltown and my main cross street, has been flowing with glitz, glamor, and gridlock for weeks in preparation for the world-famous Oscars Ceremony. When I tuned-in to the awards show, hosted by comedian Ellen DeGeneres, I felt proud to live in the midst of the excitement being broadcast to millions around the world. Comfortably gathered around the TV with a few film-buff friends, I laughed, critiqued, and snacked the night away as DeGeneres took light-hearted jabs at the millionaire audience members.
After ordering a pizza for the first few star-studded rows, DeGeneres looked to Best Actress nominee Sandra Bullock to foot the bill, stating, “Sandy […] you’ve got a lot of money, you can tip him.” This likely got a lot of people wondering just how much money Sandra Bullock was paid to star in the blockbuster hit Gravity, but anyone who has spotted a tabloid cover in line at the grocery store should already have a ball-park number in mind.
Knowing celebrity salaries makes it easy for us to point fingers and deflect the attention away from ourselves. Sure, “Sandy’s” bank account could likely fund significantly more charitable projects than mine could, and who knows, maybe it already does — but that’s not the point of this blog. Unfortunately, Miss Bullock’s checking account has nothing to do with my own, and that’s ok. While Sandra Bullock may have more money than I do — globally speaking, we aren’t so different.
In an effort to put my financial status into perspective, and prove I am no different than Sandra Bullock (humor me here), I’d like to use Sandy’s pay rate to show you all just how fortunate we are here in the United States, as compared to those in an impoverished country like Niger.
Here are some random income stats to get you thinking:
According to Time Magazine, Sandra Bullock was paid $20 million up front for her role in Gravity. According to my current pay stubs, I make $24,000 per year. Anyone familiar with math knows this is a significant gap. To be more precise, my yearly income is less than 1% of Sandra Bullock’s paycheck for Gravity (.1% to be exact).
According to worldbank.org, the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita in the United States is $52,340. A little bit more than mine, but still less than 1% of Sandra Bullock’s income. According to World Vision, the Gross National Income of a person in Niger is $360 per year. This is less than 1% of the GNI per capita in the United States (.7% to be exact). The conclusion here, folks, is that, on average, those in Niger make roughly the same percentage of our income that we make of Sandra Bullock’s income. And, let’s face it, Sandra Bullock is RICH. To a Nigerien, you are rich.
What is my point in telling you all of this? Maybe you, like me, often don’t donate to charities like Wells Bring Hope because you think the amount you can afford is too small to make a difference. As someone near the low-income bracket, I often clutch my wallet and assume someone more “well-off” will foot the bill. Next time I think I’m not fortunate like Jennifer Lawrence, or successful like Brad Pitt, I hope I choose to, instead, think of what my contribution can mean to a Nigerien whose income is approximately 1% of mine.