Ever wonder how much teen mothers on shows like 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom make compared to actors playing the part, like Secret Life’s Shailene Woodley? What about actual teen moms, as in the ones not on TV? The truth may shock you!
We reported recently that Shailene Woodley earns $40,000 per episode for her gig on Secret Life. And seeing as there were 14 episodes last season, well, you do the math. Clearly, it’s good to be a teen television starlet.
Then again, former teen mom Bristol Palin (who just turned 20 back in October) isn’t doing too bad for herself, either. The Dancing With the Stars mamacita earned $345,000 for starring in last season of the reality talent show, though arguably earns even more due to the massive publicity of her politicking mother, at $35,000 a pop for Bristol’s speaking engagements.
Meanwhile, the less well-connected cast of MTV’s reality show Teen Mom are paid a far more modest sum. Cast members Amber Portwood and Gary Shirley reportedly make between $60-65K per season. And Daddy apparently isn’t a very good saver; he constantly complains of being “broke” on the show.
The stars of 16 and Pregnant earned $1,000 per episode initially, though, after the show’s popularity blew up, they were given undisclosed raises by the studio execs at MTV.
And demonstrating further proof that television isn't real life — not even reality television — actual teen moms have a much harder road to hoe when it comes to providing for their bundles of joy. The National Campaign for the Prevention of Teen Pregnancy reports that “2/3 of families begun by young, unwed mothers are poor…and only 38 percent of mothers who have children before the age of 18 obtain a high-school diploma.” And just so we’re clear, “poor” means that these young moms are on the poverty line, which is a designation for households that bring in between $10-14K or less annually.
So, surprise! Being a teenage mom is hard on your pocketbook, unless you happen to be on television.