Autographs

11 06 2017

Preface:  I want to be sure as you read this, you know it is meant in an informative and warm way. I’m not angry about this at all – but a few things that happened at a con recently inspired me to write this post.  So think of a sunny, smiling face when you read this. ☺️

It happened again yesterday. A man and his daughter stopped by my signing table to say hi and tell me how much they love The Walking Dead. I always talk to everyone – regardless of whether or not they pay for an autographed photo or selfie. Then, the father said, “Can we take a picture with you?”  My manager chimed in, “Of course, that’ll be $15.”

There was a pause. The man cocked his head sideways. “I have to PAY for a picture even if I take it with my OWN PHONE?”  My manager lovingly explained that he could do a selfie for $15, get an autographed photo for $25, or do both for $30.  He was pissed. As he walked away he said to his daughter, “No, NO we are not paying $15 for a picture.  Come on.”

Full disclosure:  my prices at this time always range from $25-40 for an autographed photo, $15-20 for a selfie, or $30-$50 for a combo. 

What I totally understand: folks who attend cons pay for their tickets, which I know can get quite expensive, and also have to pay to travel, and stay in a hotel sometimes. 

As a guest of the comicon, what I receive to appear at the con is usually this: a flight, hotel room, and per diem. SOMETIMES I have a guarantee, meaning, there’s a set amount of money I will make regardless of how many autographs and pictures I sell.   But a lot of times, I do not have a guarantee, so what I take home is solely based on pictures and autographs that I sell.  

I have two kids, a mortgage, a car note, and some pending college tuition for my little kids that already scares the shit out of me. There is an assumption that because you are working on TV or in the movies, that you must be ridiculously wealthy. I know I have said this before, but you need to understand that only the top 2% of actors in the world are making ridiculously large sums of money.  The rest of us? On a good year, we might make as much as a nurse in a small town. In a rough year? We make less than a schoolteacher does.   So, believe it or not, many of us go to comic cons because they are part of what we have to do to make money to support our families.   Bonus is that we get to meet all the amazing fans out there who love the show, and that is always a thrill.

What you need to understand is how much money has gone into creating a career where your signature is now “valuable.”  I am 41 years old, I started on stage at 10 years old.  I went to college on a full scholarship, that I earned by having a very high GPA and being in every single stage play at my school, and competing nationally in speech and debate.  I went to a Louisiana public school, no fancy private school – we couldn’t afford that – so I pushed through that system to get myself into college. I got my BA in theater arts with a focus on acting.  Although I had a full scholarship, I still came out of college with a bit of debt.

I then went on to graduate school, also on a full scholarship, again based on my high GPA and a rather rigorous audition.  I graduated with my MFA in acting, and immediately moved to New York City.  

To live in New York City, and try to be an actor, is rather expensive proposition. But I poured every dime I had into auditions, networking events, new head shots when I couldn’t afford them, and eventually decided that New York was not for me, and moved back to New Orleans.

Over the 31 years I have been acting, in particular since I begin studying acting in college, there have been many “oh shit are we going to have our lights shut off” moments.  Many, “Should we pay the electric bill OR the internet bill?” conversations. There has been much eating of Ramen. There have been hundreds of auditions year, with only a few bookings. There have been jobs at wine bars, catering companies, wedding event companies, shoe stores, and any other work I could cobble together in order to pay the bills.

Then, The Walking Dead happened. I was 38 years old when I booked that show.  Married, with two small kids, a mortgage, a car note, and some rather impressive air-conditioning bills because, hey, I live in New Orleans. 

31 years, and now my signature is meaningful enough to people to have them pay for it. My image that I worked on for all those years in school, in films, on the stage, is now worth enough to charge for it.  At Cons, I am asked the same questions over and over again, but I don’t mind at all. To me, I feel so blessed that someone cared enough to come all this distance just to meet me and ask me that question.   I engage each person, and try my best to be cheerful all day long, because, frankly, that’s my job!

 I realize to an outsider, this may sound like “first world problems”.  And believe me, I know that my life is an embarrassment of riches. Unfortunately, so far it is not an embarrassment of riches to the point that it makes any difference in my financial life!!!! 🤣🤣🤣

So when you go to a comic con, and you step up to someone’s table, remember all the blood sweat and tears that went into that person getting to the place where their signature, and their image, is valuable.   And remember that this is our WORK. When we go to cons, we are going to work.  

Usually when I’m at a con, there is something very specific I’m trying to fund. In this case right now, I have to finish paying for my kids summer camp. So I can work.  At one point, I was at a con making money so that I could finish paying my daughters school tuition.  Again, so I can work. (There is no free preschool in New Orleans.)  Even though the profession we have chosen seems quite glamorous, many of us have the same struggles you do trying to provide for our families.

Thanks for listening. ♥️

Hope to see you at a con some day!


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20 responses

11 06 2017
Melissa Norris

Absolutely love this! You’ve worked so hard to get where you are! So proud of You! ❤

11 06 2017
Barbara Cocuzza

Well said(written) . It is very true that a lot of people think after paying to enter the cons they just think its about waiting on lines to meet their favorite actors, I thought that the 1st time I went and WOW was I wrong, for me to have met and had pictures of all my favorites I would have had atleast $1000 plus you need $ to bye a souvenir and food/drinks. But I also saw the time you and some other actors put in to meet each fan and talk to them, hug them ect, so it is worth the $30-$100 cause as you said you are at work and stand for most of the 2 days that your there. So I hope any fan who hasn’t been to a con yet gets to read this and it helps them realize that they need to save up for the awesome weekend they will have and the wonderful actors they are going to meet. Ann Maloney you are worth every $ because you take your time with each fan and hearing about your next projects and your life made me feel like I know you and i made a new friend. I hope this helps with future fans so they know when they meet the actors all pictures must be paid for, the only thing free are Hugs..❌⭕

14 06 2017
Liz

Annie you are wonderful and I love the way you treat my friend Tamara Rice so lovingly on Twitter and Facebook. This is when I officially became a fan. Of course I loved Olivia ESPECIALLY when she slapped the dickhead Negan!!! Wooohoooo lol. I loved Bad Moms in your small but memorable role. So many are proud of you. I loved this blog so much. I make no assumptions of your perceived wealth…or any other actor. We are all working towards a bigger goal. Keep working girl and I hope you make to to WSC Oz next year. Only love here x

16 06 2017
#OscarsRedHat

Wow, well said and totally understood, I can’t believe after meeting u he wouldn’t gift himself and his daughter the treasure of having a pic with you for that underpriced price…I’m so sorry Ann, u are amazing and keep up the great work!

16 06 2017
Lex

Great post. I think fans sometimes have this sense of entitlement that actors wouldn’t have a career without us, but we wouldn’t have a favorite show or favorite characters without you guys. Fans need to look at it as more of a symbiotic relationship than a who-owes-who imbalance. You can’t keep making the things we love if you don’t feel financially secure enough to stay in your career. Here’s hoping you keep finding the success you worked so hard for. ❤

16 06 2017
Rhonda Bantsimba

Thanks for sharing that insight into your reality.

16 06 2017
Paula bradbury

That’s sad, I am a nurse and everyone assumes we make a lot but we don’t really after you pay your bills and take care of the kids and get food. However I enjoy going to the cons, and I understand the reasons why we have to pay for a picture or a autograph. I have paid for many it’s a great feeling seeing you guys and meeting you. I enjoy talking to you .

16 06 2017
glitzygrrl

Reblogged this on GLITZYGRRL.COM and commented:
Totally get it, Ann Mahoney (honestly I call you Olivia 98% of the time. $15 is a great price, BTW, peeps! Most actors in supporting roles on TWD charge $40. I’d be happy to get a pic with her for $15! Olivia was a great character. And maybe one reason I think so is bc she was plus size, like me. But that’s okay. We need plus size characters in every show! And even though I would have liked to have been irritated by the fact that her size was brought into it, Negan did it in such a way that I couldn’t help but die laughing! I’m always gonna support a plus size actor. But beyond that fact, Ann Mahoney stands on her own merit. She’s a good actor and a beautiful person, and I love following her on Twitter!

16 06 2017
Anna

Thank you for writing this. So many dont understand, and sadly many still wont. But i think its amazing that you took the time to do this. I totally regret not getting the chance to meet you in chicago i think it was. Hopefully i will see you in Atlanta at Wsc or maybe even the Cruise!

16 06 2017
Kim McDonald

Don’t know if this will get to you Ann, but I hope this is not why you have not been to the past few Walker Stalker Con. I would have gladly paid to take a picture and get an autograph with you. Hopefully you will be able to make it to Atlanta this year and be there that Sunday as it is the only day I will be able to attend.

16 06 2017
Durra Whitacre

Ty for telling us this! Hearing about it from a guest point of view educates us all about it.What is priceless is the hours of time spent when you guests have got to be tired as heck! HUGS FROM ALL OF US WHO LOVE YOU❤!!!

16 06 2017
Judi

Thank you for sharing your perspective. There will always be people who cannot or will not understand a perspective that conflicts with their own.

16 06 2017
Lillie

Kudos, Ann! Well said. I’ve attended and worked Walker Stalker Conventions. Your price was by far one of the least expensive I’ve heard of or seen. Good luck with him getting a photo anywhere else for that amount! Even with his “own phone!” 😂

16 06 2017
Holly

I wish this was required reading for everyone attending a con! Quite frankly, I’ve noticed that some con-goers, especially those new to the convention scene, are quite entitled. Adjust those attitudes, please. Even if an actor is very wealthy, how is it fair to expect them to give us their time for free? Besides, have you seen how exhausted some of these guests look toward the end of the day?! They’re working hard for their fans. That’s worth paying for.

PS: You rock! ❤

16 06 2017
Elizabeth S Lewis

I understand completely. It’s just nonsense to be so rude and obnoxious. Actors are stereotyped into one group who we all think are mega rich. Fortunately, my son ois an avid comic Con and he filled me in on all the details.

I wish you wealth and happiness.

17 06 2017
Jenny Babbel Giles

Love this! And I’m STILL mad they killed you off! I cry when y’all die! Thanks for your hard work, dedication and sacrifice! God bless you and your family!

17 06 2017
Melany galvan

Annie thanks for this commentary. I just went to my first con this year and loved it!! I met Norman JD and Khary. What awesome gentleman they were and it was one of the best days of my life really!! Can’t wait to meet you too!! I think the only thing you didn’t address was why people like Norman and JD charge huge amounts and others are amore doable price. I want to give you what I think and you can tell me if I am close. Fame is not a givin. When an actor is hot their prices rise with the heat. Nobody knows how long their flame 🔥 will burn bright so they get while the getting good. And I do not mean that in any disrespectful way please know that. It just makes good sense. It’s very unfair that men’s life in Hollywood seems to last longer than women’s and believe me I would pay more than $15 to take a picture with you and have the opportunity to talk with you. People don’t think about all the hard work that got you there but you feel it in your bones I am sure. I worked 34 yrs at my job to earn the right to retire and you guys have to work hard too. I wisk you could post your blog at com icons everywhere and give rude people something to think about. Your da bomb girl. Do ya think they could find your twin sister somewhere and bring her in to Rick and his crews group? LOL Come on now it could happen.

17 06 2017
Patricia Martin

You know I wouldn’t mind paying that price for that photo for you. What bothers me is when some, actors think they should get more or as much as the bigger stars, who were on longer than one season. But I do appreciate you telling us as Fans, that you too are just a working girl to. With the same responsibilities as the rest of us.

17 06 2017
blissfullyawareoflife

Thank you for sharing this. It’s so easy for us to ASSume and even easier without this info. You have educated many and I hope it makes things better ❤️
Also, your tone shone through making this a loving and kind informative blog.

18 06 2017
Canadagraphs

Well said Ann.

I fully confess that I am 1- one of those people that asks for free autographs away from cons at sets/hotels etc, and 2- HATE the greed of convention promoters, so I will NEVER go to one.

if a celeb ever says to me “look, I dont really make TOO much from this job yet, I should be compensated for my time, right?”, I ask them what they think is reasonable, and if they say a number I think is reasonable, I absolutely would pay it. We are asking for some of your time. I dont see any reason that you shouldnt be reasonably compensated for it.

If you are at a convention, sitting at a table, it should be EXPECTED (unless the promoter deceives people, which happened at the 1st & only con I ever have gone to) that the people are there working. It is the persons RIGHT to be compensated for taking time out of their lives to come and meet the public, usually at a place thats not in their home city. The entertainers have to leave the comfort of their homes/lives/families to come and meet fans. There absolutely, in instances like this, be some expectation of compensation.

I hear people at sets here now a days since we have a LOT of con-savvy shows filming here talk in terms like “I just saved $70 there” when they go to a set and get someones photo with and autograph. It irks me a bit when I hear that. While they are right, it sounds when they say it like that almost like they ONLY got the photo & autograph to say they got it for free. I do this as a job, and even I dont think of it in those terms.

It kind of disgusts me how entitled some “fans” act. While there are a LOT of celebs I have a disdain for, I hear fans all the time say “I cant believe *actors name* couldnt come over for 2 minutes to see us”…. meanwhile they are saying that with a mob of 75 people around them. When a celeb tells me “no”, I dont often take offense to it, unless they do it in such a way that its clear they meant it to be offensive, or they did it in a way where the fakeness of the “no, sorry” oozes from every syllable they speak But these “fans” I see at set, just EXPECT they should get to meet celebs now. I’ve been doing this for 25+ years now, and the last 3-6 years have really seen an uptick in how much “fans” (I put that in parentheses because many of them are just fans of meeting ANY celeb, and dont even know the entertainers work many times) expect from celebs, and how much they over react to being told no.

I’ve so far only TWICE ever had a celeb ask me to compensate them on the street for their time. Both times I asked what they felt was reasonable, and both times it was. By comparison, I’ve had about a dozen players in the past 3-5 years say something comparable, and they are in a business where they have a guaranteed minimum salary of $500K annually. I treat them with a very different attitude about it, because theirs comes more from an entitlement than a “look I am just trying to make ends meet, and you are asking for my time” standpoint.

Ann, if you ever make it to Vancouver for a Con. I hope to meet you, obviously it wont be at the convention since I refuse to go to them…. but that doesnt mean I would take offense either if you asked to be compensated a bit to sign for me elsewhere either.

VERY well written post.

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