The 14-member band the Willis Family initially found fame on season 9 of America’s Got Talent. Although they didn’t win the competition, ultimately getting knocked out in the quarterfinals, the Tennessee-based clan was popular enough with viewers that their own family-focused reality show, The Willis Clan, was quickly greenlit. The six-part series premiered on GAC in 2013. VP of programming Susan Gordon told USA Today at the time, “It was clear it was a house that was full of love and learning and plenty of fun.”
She also made a point of noting, “we don’t have to manufacture any drama or conflict because it’s built into the Willis clan. It’s inherent anytime you have a house with that many people and that many activities. We just let them be themselves.” Clearly, the Willis Family was always meant to be on our screens. So, how much did they actually get paid for the privilege?
The Willis Family made decent money from their reality TV stint
A few years after The Willis Clan aired, the singing family starred in another reality series, The Willis Family, for two seasons on GAC’s sister channel TLC. The Willis Family produced 13 episodes total, starting with “Momma” on May 5, 2015. The series finale, “Making Moves,” aired on April 19, 2016.
It’s tough to ascertain exactly how much reality stars make for their shows, because such contracts aren’t typically public knowledge. However, E! News reported that the Duggars of Counting On fame were initially paid around 10% of the show’s budget in keeping with general practices in the industry. At the time, the average TLC show was budgeted at around $320,500. If we apply this number to the Willis Family’s series, then the members stood to net around $32,500 per episode, or little over $420,000 for both seasons. Further, their fame put the family in higher demand for nationwide tours, too, which naturally earned them more money overall.
The Willis Family could have gone on to be as big of a hit as Counting On but, in 2017, patriarch Toby Willis pled guilty to raping four children and was sentenced to 40 years, as reported by People at the time, effectively ending his family’s relationship with TLC.
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