For over 20 years, Will Smith has been responsible for many of pop culture’s funniest and most iconic moments in history. From his classic “Summertime” tunes to his silly “Fresh Prince” antics, he’s managed to entertain and inspire the masses and continues to do so today.
His major claim to fame was the ’90s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” and becoming one of the highest-paid actors with a net worth of $350 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. However, his road to financial success was not smooth sailing.
The West Philadelphia native, alongside his childhood friend, DJ Jazzy Jeff, was a Grammy award-winning rap duo signed to Def Jam Records. Their 1988 studio album “He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper” sold over three million copies, but Smith ran into financial troubles leaving him with $6 million in debt.
Smith attributes his success and financial freedom to developing a work ethic that didn’t come until he started acting, according to CNBC.
“When I moved into acting that was the first time I started applying skill to my talents,” he said. “For me, to be a movie star was the first thing I ever really wanted like that and set my eyes on.”
According to Celebrity Net Worth, his “Fresh Prince” checks were garnished and he made little to nothing in the first three years of the show.
After his epiphany, Smith went on to star in major blockbuster movies like “Bad Boys,” “Independence Day,” “Men in Black,” “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “Ali,” and more. Between 1993 and 2013, he made $200 million in movie salaries.
He strategically began working with production companies and streaming platforms like Netflix to elevate even further. According to Hollywood Reporter, he boldly and successfully negotiated $27 million upfront when working on the movie “Bright,” $12.5 million for “Gemini Man,” and $20 million for “King Richard.”
As of late, he’s taken social media by storm. Since joining Instagram, in 2017, he’s continued to showcase his impeccable work ethic to provide unique content and collaborated with dozens of brands and content creators. Once again he’s leveling up financially by leveraging over 50 million Instagram followers, 77 million Facebook likes, and nine million YouTube subscribers.