Drama Producers In Search For Rookies Amid Controversy Over Top Actors’ Soaring Appearances Fees

Amid the rise in actors’ appearance fees, drama producers are determined to recruit new actors with both acting skills and visuals

Earlier this year, drama production companies raised concerns over the rise in famous actors’ appearance fees resulting in a soar in drama production costs. With the emergence of OTT platforms, it has become more difficult for dramas to gain high ratings, and demands for casting famous actors to attract viewers also increase. As OTT pays actors a lot, traditional drama producers are struggling to compete. Amid the controversy, various actors have been pointed out for having high appearance fees, such as Lee Jung-jae, Kim Soo-hyun, Park Bo-young, etc.

In this situation, K-school dramas are gaining attention not only in Korea but also overseas. Due to the nature of school dramas, which tell stories about multiple characters rather than a single protagonist, they are becoming great opportunities to introduce new talents. 

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In particular, K-school dramas need many young actors so producers often recruit newcomers. Dramas like “All of Us Are Dead”, “Duty After School”, “High Cookie”, “Night Has Come”, etc. included lineups of all new actors and gained significant results. Many fresh faces such as Park Ji-hoo, Romon, Yoo In-soo, Kim Woo-seok, Ahn Ji-ho, Lee Jae-in, Cha Woo-min, etc. showed outstanding performances.

Top actors tend to prefer roles in dramas where they can stand out the most. Therefore, it is difficult to cast them in school dramas where the focus is on a group of characters. On the other hand, this becomes a great chance for rookie actors. Even with supporting roles, they can still leave strong impressions on viewers and prove their potential.

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In the recently ended drama “Pyramid Game”, 24 students in the class, excluding the female lead Kim Ji-yeon, were new actors who just made their debut. This is a good example of a production team that successfully reduced actors’ appearance fees and focused on directing instead. Unfamiliar names such as Jang Da-ah, Shin Seul-ki, Kang Na-eon, and Ryu Da-in won big roles through auditions and added freshness to the series. These gem-like actors were picked by the director himself solely based on their synchronization with the characters and acting skills. The discovery of new actors also occurred in OTT projects, for example, Lee Jung-ha, Go Yoon-jung, and Kim Do-hoon from “Moving” or Lee Si-woo from Coupang Play’s “Boyhood”.

In this regard, management CEO A said, “In recent years, drama production companies have been discussing casting newcomers more regularly. In particular, many are still searching for female leads”. 

Casting pursuing only the fame of top stars can have a negative impact on the project and the whole industry. As the cost of casting top actors continues to increase significantly, fans are raising expectations for production companies to consider a healthier and more stable measure to produce dramas without top actors.

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