Actors in soap operas are cast in several different types of character roles. The three most notable are "contract", "recurring", and "guest".
Contract Status Edit
Contract status refers to an actor being placed under a contract running over a number of years.
Actors are to remain on their contract and with their corresponding show until their contract expires, and then choose whether to renew their contracts or not. Many long-running actors do, such as John McCook, Katherine Kelly Lang, Jacob Young, Don Diamont, Heather Tom, and Karla Mosley, especially when their corresponding characters have storylines they are closely involved in.
However, some actors decide to wean off of their contracts and choose not to renew them when little airtime has come in for them, such as Sean Kanan, Lawrence Saint-Victor, Ashleigh Brewer, and, most recently, Linsey Godfrey and Felisha Cooper. These actors are often bumped to "recurring status", allowing them to remain with the show but work part-time (see "Recurring Status").
Contractees must meet a "quota" of hours/days at work will often appear in three or more episodes a week, or ten in a month. They will be paid weekly for their work; the more input they give, the more pay they will receive. Those that do not are often bumped to recurring status, to save money.
Recurring Status Edit
Recurring status refers to an actor working for a soap opera part-time.
Unlike contract status, recurring status allows actors to only attend their workplace at a minimum of three times a week. While filming scenes for one show, a recurring actor is permitted take on other jobs, and will be paid by their employer after filming has concluded, rather than a flat fee that a contractee would be paid once every fiscal quarter.
Many actors begin their run on a show on a contract, but will opt to go to recurring status when their contract is evaluated if they have had limited airtime - notable (past) examples are Daniel McVicar, Kristolyn Lloyd, Adam Gregory, Justin Torkildsen, and Aaron D. Spears. However, some actors opt not to have a contract at all - notable examples being Betty White, Dick Christie, Obba Babatundé, and Anna Maria Horsford.
Guest Roles Edit
Guest roles refer to actors playing a role for a small sum of episodes.
A guest role's payment works in the same way to that of a recurring character, though on a much smaller scale. They will often appear in one to three episodes, sometimes up to a week consecutively.