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Lil Rel Howery’s Revelation: ‘Get Out’ Role Elevated His Pay Scale In Hollywood

Lil Rel Howery, known for his breakout role in Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” said in a recent interview that the film changed his life — especially financially.

Lil Rel Howery
Lil Rel Howery, YouTube screenshot, Club Shay Shay

In an interview on Shannon Sharpe’s “Club Shay Shay” podcast, the 44-year-old actor shared insights into how the film, which starred Daniel Kaluuya in the lead role, transformed his career and altered the trajectory of his life in Hollywood.

Despite the initial modest budget of the 2017 film, Howery’s role as TSA agent Rod Williams marked his first major feature film appearance. Reflecting on his compensation for the film, Howery humorously remarked that he earned the minimum as per the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) scale.

Know Your Price

Director Jordan Peele also gave him valuable advice for his future in Hollywood, he shared. While editing the film, Peele reached out to Howery with a prophetic message: “Know your price. Know your number.”

“God, I didn’t know what ‘Get Out’ was going to be, right? It was my first featured film, and there was just something special about it,” recalled Howery, who reputedly has a net worth of $4 million. “I can’t even describe that. Even when the trailer came out and it did all these numbers, and we had to go do reshoots because now we got some — you know, the trailer did well, Universal gave some more money.”

He continued about the call with Peele, “The brother told me while he was editing it. He called me and said, ‘Man, get ready. Know your price. Know your number.’ I didn’t know what the f**k that meant. I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ … I was like, ‘Am I thinking this is good because I’m in it?’ Yeah, that was a good one. So, how did that movie— you said he said, ‘Name your price.’ So, in other words, that movie changed the pay scale for real. It changed the pay scale, it changed how I was looked at.”

In the aftermath of “Get Out,” Howery experienced a major boost in his career, transitioning from his roots in comedy, including appearances on platforms like BET’s “ComicView,” to starring roles in films and television series. Among his credits are roles in “The Carmichael Show,” “Bird Box,” and “Judas and the Black Messiah,” though this film was roundly panned.

The film also marked his first big check, even though he told Sharpe he was paid around $3,000 per week for the film — “‘Get Out’ was on a Tubi budget,” said the actor.

The entire film was shot in 23 days.

“So funny, the first big check was a ‘Get Out’ back-end check. ‘Cause ‘Get Out,’ we did for like, it was a … it was literally ‘Get Out’ was on a two-budget movie, two-movie budget,” he told Sharpe. “And so, you know, I did that for the SAG, whatever the SAG minimum, minimum, they delivered my back-end check.”

The psychological thriller grossed over $256 million worldwide, according to IMDb, and won an Academy Award in 2018 for “Best Original Screenplay.”

The success of “Get Out” not only elevated Howery’s profile within the industry but also opened doors to other opportunities. Howery got his TV start on Fox’s revival in 2012 of the 1990s sketch program “In Living Color.” He also starred as Robert Carmichael in NBC’s comedy series “The Carmichael Show” (2015–2017) and in the short-lived TV series “Rel” (2018–2019), which he created and co-produced.

In early 2016, Netflix started streaming Howery’s first exclusive solo stand-up special from 2015, “Kevin Hart Presents: Lil Rel: RELevent.”

Since “Get Out,” his projects include the films “Free Guy” in 2021 with Ryan Reynolds, “I Love My Dad” (2022), “Deep Water” (2022), and “Vacation Friends 2” (2023). He also played the character Bishop on the HBO Max sitcom “South Side” (2019-2022); enjoyed his second stand-up special, “Lil Rel Howery: Live in Crenshaw,” which aired on HBO in 2022; dropped a third special, “I said it. Y’all thinking it” for HBO also in 2022.

Howery said he still can’t believe his journey. “As a person who comes from BET’s ‘ComicView’ … to being in Oscar-nominated movies, streaming-breaking movies, it’s crazy to me.”

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