It’s fair to say that Denzel Washington changed the game for Black actors. Until his flurry of critically acclaimed roles primarily in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, conventional wisdom in Hollywood held that African Americans were not broadly appealing nor bankable in leading roles. Despite many critically praised performances by older luminaries, such as Sidney Poitier and James Earl Jones, commercially successful films starring African Americans were few and far between.
However, Washington began to make history in the ‘90s, with several movies in which he starred (1993’s “The Pelican Brief,” 1995’s “Crimson Tide,” and 1998’s “The Siege” among them), grossing over $100 million worldwide. Along with rapper-turned-actor Will Smith, Denzel Washington paved the way for Hollywood production companies to cast African American actors in big-budget films. His string of commercially successful films has lasted well into the 2000s, with recent films such as “2 Guns,” “Flight,” “The Equalizer,” and “The Equalizer 2,” also having grossed well over $100 million in box office receipts.
Given his drawing power at the box office, Washington brings in an estimated $20 million per film. A Forbes estimate of Washington’s earnings since 2003 contend he’s made a whopping $290 million pre-tax between 2003 and 2017. However, this doesn’t include earnings from the 29 films he appeared in before then or the four he’s filmed since. It further excludes compensation for his numerous stage appearances and various turns he’s taken at film production and directing. It also excludes earnings from any business ventures in which he may have a stake.
Various sources, such as Celebrity Net Worth, estimate that Washington’s net worth is in the neighborhood of $250 million. This figure is partially based on his estimated annual salary of $60 to $80 million per year, given his film compensation and how frequently he acts these days. Not one to flaunt his wealth, it’s unclear how exactly he spends his money. However, we do know he maintains an upscale 28,887-square-foot residence in Los Angeles with his wife and four children, worth an estimated $16.5 million. He also donates to charity, having directly supported and raised money for the Boys and Girls Club for years, given its impact on his life during his formative years. He even covered the late Chadwick Boseman’s tuition at a prestigious summer theater program at the University of Oxford.
Considered among the finest actors of his generation, Washington is likely worth more than $250 million. Given his pioneering work (which has paved the way for many Black actors to earn substantial paydays), as well as philanthropy, he’s earned every dollar.