It’s not just lower-income Americans who are feeling the pinch from the covid-19 pandemic. Performing artists and others who work in the arts were hit as movie theaters were shut down, live performances canceled and Broadway closed.
Even those used to raking in millions of dollars per project are tightening their belts, comedian Chris Rock said during a recent interview with The Breakfast Club.
One in four U.S. adults have had trouble paying their bills since the coronavirus outbreak started, and about one in six have borrowed money from friends or family or gotten food from a food bank, according to a Pew Research Center survey done in September.
Black celebrities are living on less. Rock, considered one of the most successful comedians in the U.S. is worth an estimated $100 million. He’s pulling back on his own spending, he told Breakfast Club hosts DJ Envy, Angela Yee, and Charlamagne tha God.
Rock said some of his Hollywood colleagues are finding their “straw” houses are falling down, referencing “The Three Little Pigs” fairy tale.
“I tell you right now I’m getting calls,” Rock said. “Some of my friends have brick houses but some of my friends’ houses are made of straw…I’m getting calls from famous people trying to sell me their cars. Like people we know that like are (getting) ready to lose their houses. The houses are falling.”
Rock added that while has been helping out his family and friends, he himself is “downsizing on some level.
“I’m looking…(to) as my father used to say, make some decisions before the white man makes them for you.”
He added, “So I’m making some decisions. Life’s great, but what’s sustainable? This could happen again…so can I ride out a year without working? But what if I have to ride out three years without working? You know, you’re just making different moves and different investments and you know, you set up your priorities.”
You can hear Rock’s comments at minute 12:12 to minute 14:13 of this YouTube video:
Actor, activist and author Gabrielle Union has also pointed out that the covid-19 shutdowns have affected Black Hollywood. Some Black celebrities are “1 to 2 checks away from not having enough money to pay their bills,” Union tweeted in May. “The average SAG (actor union) actor makes around 54k a year, while VAST MAJORITY make less than 1k a year from acting work.
“For all of the Oprahs and the people who have just a lot a lot a lot a lot of money, most of us are one or two checks away from not having money to pay for all of our things, you know what I mean?” Union said, according to Essence. “So this stoppage of work and money is impacting marginalized celebrities the most.”
Money used to be something Rock would joke about in his standup routine. He once said, “Americans worship money … Separate God from school, separate God from work, separate God from government, but on your money it says, ‘In God we trust,’” CBS reported.
Here are some other lines of financial wisdom Rock has given fans in the past:
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“All my life I’ve been looking for God, and He’s right in my pocket.” — Chris Rock
“Americans worship money, and we all go to the same church, the ATM church of ATM. Everywhere you look there’s a new branch popping up, reminding you about how much money you got and how much money you don’t get. And if you got less than $20, the machine won’t even talk to you. The machine is like, ‘You better go see a teller.’
“You ever go to a teller and try to take out $8.50? Oh, it’s disgusting. … Oh man, you gotta wait on that long line, people doing real transactions in front of you, you get up to the front, you fill out your form, $8.50.
“The teller looks at it, she look at you, she looks at the check, she don’t even take the money out of the drawer, she take it out of her pocket, ‘Here you go, get outta here.’”