If given the opportunity to appear in a major motion picture but the pay was much lower than you envisioned, would you still do it? Yes? What if the check amounted to $150? Still interested? According to actress Terri J. Vaughn, that’s how much she made for appearing in the movie Friday.
Before we knew her as “Jonelle Abrahams” on UPN’s All Of Us or “Lovita Alizay Jenkins Robinson” on The Steve Harvey Show, Terri J. Vaughn has appeared in some pivotal films. If you recall, the actress got a “little crazy” when she had a romp in the back of a USPS truck in Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. But before that happened, many of us were introduced to Terri J. Vaughn in the 1995 cult classic film Friday. The actress was interviewed on Comedy Hype, reflecting on her experience. Unfortunately, like others in the film, Vaughn’s pay was much less than you would expect.
The Ice Cube and DJ Pooh written Friday opened in movie theaters in April of 1995. With a budget of $3.5 million, Cube’s debut screenplay debuted at the #2 spot on the box office and grossed over $27 million. But while many of the stars that helped bring the misadventures of Craig and Smokey have spoken about their great experience working on the movie, the pay they received was not so great.
The decision to move to Los Angeles and fully pursue acting brought Terri J. Vaughn the opportunity to land the role. In or around her third year living in the city of dreams, Vaughn landed an agent who told her of the Friday auditions. Initially, Vaughn auditioned for the role of “Debbie,” for which she got three callbacks. Eventually, we would experience Debbie through Nia Long’s infamous portrayal.
Vaughn claims to have heard Long’s audition and the reactions of those in the room. Following Long, the actress went into the room for her turn. They later called her to inform her that she lost the role to Nia Long, but because they loved her so much, they offered her the more minor part of “China.” “And that’s how I ended up being in the movie,” recalled the NAACP Image Award-winning actress.
But according to Vaughn, the role was so small that China did not have a name initially. However, Vaughn revealed that Ice Cube gave the character a name during the scene’s filming. China was only given one scene with speaking lines, but Vaughn was around for other filming parts as a background actress.
Compared to the $5k that other actors claimed to have made during the film, Vaughn reflected that her pay was “nothing like that.” The actress shared with the interviewer that her pay ranged from $150 to $250. But although the money was far from “life-changing,” it was Vaughn’s first movie, and she was “excited” to act along with Ice Cube and Nia Long.