Ex-HGTV Host Orlando Soria Shares How Much He Really Earned From His Show

Most people assume that starring on a hit reality show would mean raking in the big bucks. However, Orlando Soria, host of HGTV hits like Unspouse My House and Build Me Up, recently shared how much he really got paid for his time with the network. 

Orlando Soria’s had unpleasant experiences with HGTV

Orlando Soria | HGTV

In a personal essay posted on his website, Soria claims he was overworked and underpaid while working on shows for HGTV. 

“I haven’t chatted much about this stuff yet because I thought I’d get in trouble or burn professional bridges,” the interior designer wrote. 

“Typically I’d be standing for 12-14 hour a day on no food,” Soria said of shooting his show. “And because I didn’t have any help with hair, makeup, or wardrobe, it was up to me to stay as perfect looking as possible throughout the day while trying to find a place to change where there often weren’t any private places.”

Things were off to a rough start, and the COVID-19 pandemic only made things more complicated. 

“I worked continuously for the first few terrifying months of the pandemic with very little protection. While everyone else was isolating, my design team and I were going to every store possible before they closed down to get the furniture we needed in time for our show to meet its (immovable, even in the time of covid) deadline,” he remembered.”It’s a miracle no one got Covid because there weren’t any clear guidelines for safety. We just tried to wear masks and not stand too close to each other while we were shooting scenes.”

Orlando Soria compares his salary to Discovery CEO

In addition to the disregard for cast and crew safety, Soria also compared his salary to that of the CEO of the network. 

“The CEO of Discovery (which owns HGTV) is one of the richest people in media,” Soria wrote. “Meanwhile, for my ten months of work on the second season of my show, I made $5000 per episode, totaling $40,000. After taxes and my agent fees, my take home was $17,500. “Build Me Up” came from an original concept I created, based on my own life. Broken down, my pay was about $1750/month or $437.50/week (for those of you at home doing the math that’s $11/hour).” 

“Someone made hundreds of thousands of dollars (millions?) off of my original idea and likeness but that someone was definitely not me,” he continued. “I know this because this show has aired in a ton of markets AROUND THE WORLD, I still get messages from followers in faraway countries constantly telling me they’re watching my show for the first time. And someone (again, not me) makes money each time the show is aired in a new market.”

Orlando Soria doesn’t regret the show’s cancellation

Build Me Up ended up being canceled, but Soria said he doesn’t regret his time making the show. 

“I am still friends with a lot of the people who agreed to appear on the show. While the stories shown were definitely “produced,” meaning they were set up so they could be captured by cameras, a lot of the hardships my on-air clients revealed to me created a bond between us that will be there forever,” he wrote. “Their willingness to share their stories with me and with the audience at home – thus helping people feel less alone in their own struggles and grief – is an enormous gift I don’t take for granted. And one that I am still thankful for daily.”

Fans of Build Me Up had no idea there was so much turmoil going on behind the scenes of the show, but Soria’s essay has shown the unpleasant side of starring on an HGTV reality show. 

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