How Much Is Wanda Sykes Really Worth?

When you think of the funniest ladies in comedy, names like Kate McKinnon, Ali Wong, and Amy Schumer might come to mind. With a plethora of Netflix specials, stand-up tours, and legendary writing chops, the women who define comedy are a force to be reckoned with — and the tidal wave that perhaps leads them all is Wanda Sykes. Sykes is not only known for her incredible comedic work, but for her outspoken, poignant, and quick-witted personality. Intertwined with her material as a comedian, Sykes' razor sharp intellect has redefined the power of stand-up, and it looks like she isn't backing down anytime soon.

Outside of her professional life, Sykes is also well known for being an out and proud lesbian. Not only is she vocal about equal rights, but she is happily married to her wife, Alex Sykes, and is a mother to two children. With all that professional and personal success, it begs the question: How much is Sykes worth, exactly? Celebrity Net Worth puts the figure at a cool $10 million. Here's how the comedian and talented performer made that money.

Wanda Sykes was born into a banker's family

It's safe to say that $10 million is a nice sum of money to have attached to your name, but for Wanda Sykes, financial wits surrounded her from a very young age. As described by Notable Biographies, Sykes was born on March 7, 1964, in Portsmouth, Virginia, to her fairly traditional parents. Her dad had a career in the armed forces and made it all the way to the rank of colonel. Her mother, on the other hand, had a career in finance and worked as a bank manager — talk about setting your kids up for financial responsibility and success.

While she was born in Virginia, Sykes spent some of her childhood in the area surrounding Fort Meade in Maryland, and it was in her early years that her "outspoken" persona started to make itself apparent. Notable Biographies reported that Sykes made it such a point to comment on just about everything, that even as a little kid, her parents were often petrified as to what she would say next. In an attempt to protect themselves and visitors from her unfiltered comments, Sykes' parents even shipped the comedian off to her grandmother's house when guests came over.

The comedian was paid by her parents as a youngster for this hilarious reason

Believe it or not, one of Wanda Sykes' earliest incomes came from her parents, and the reasoning behind it will leave you cracking up. Notable Biographies says that not only did Sykes' parents send her to her grandma's when visitors were at the house, but they would — on occasion – pay her to keep her opinions to herself. In a sit-down with The Guardian, Sykes further explained just how on-edge her family was when she was a youngster, saying, "I would look at somebody and if they looked funny — if their wig was crooked, or if I'd heard my parents talk about who owed them money — I would just bring it up." Calling herself "a little time bomb," Sykes made it clear that being on her parents' payroll was for good reason.

Sykes took that childhood-established energy and put it to good use. While a student at Arundel High School, Sykes made her unabashed personality known, and even applied it to her extracurriculars. An avid theater kid, Sykes started developing her on-stage skillset as a teenager (per Notable Biographies). Clearly, she was onto something.

Wanda Sykes earned a government salary before she made it big in entertainment

Despite her larger than life personality and passion for performing, Wanda Sykes left high school and followed her parents' "sensible path." During her sit-down with The Guardian, Sykes reflected on her college education and first paid position, explaining that she didn't even really understand what it was she was being paid to do (talk about a comic through and through). After leaving Hampton University with a degree in marketing, Sykes got a position with the National Security Agency (yes, the NSA, we're not kidding) as a contract specialist. As part of her job, she "calculated the best bids for blueprints and schematics," but told The Guardian, "I didn't even know what I was buying."

While she had a position that certainly seemed to take up a good amount of time — and with the NSA of all institutions — Sykes continued to pursue her career in comedy. In the ultimate side hustle, she took free gigs during her first five years of government work in order to expand her comedic repertoire. With time, she started receiving paid gigs, and her career took off from there.

The comedian's parents didn't think she should sacrifice her government job for comedy

It feels like a mind trip to picture Wanda Sykes in any other line of work other than comedy, let alone a government job, but her work for the National Security Administration made up Sykes' first five years as an employee. As noted by the Cato Institute, government workers have been the subjects of steadily increasing pay wages since the 1990s, and largely make more money than their private sector counterparts. As such, when Sykes was vetting a career in show business, her parents simply could not understand why she'd give up a well-paying job.

Sykes told The Guardian that when her parents first saw her stand-up act — which just happened to be her third live performance ever — the spectators booed her practically off-stage. Her mother's response? "It's OK, you have a good government job." Despite their doubt, Sykes pushed on and realized that her dream was in comedy, not government work. "Leaving security, health benefits and a good job to stand in a club and try to make a bunch of drunks laugh. That's nuts!" Sykes said of her early career.

Wanda Sykes worked for Chris Rock as a writer

Wanda Sykes' free performances turned into paid gigs with time, and as she told Backstage, she landed the opening gig at Caroline's Comedy Club in the late 1990s. Who did she open for? Legendary comic Chris Rock, and the set served as her breakthrough moment. Rock clearly liked what he heard that night, because he went on to hire Sykes as a writer for "The Chris Rock Show" in 1997. It was in this gig that Sykes really started to set herself apart from the crowd, and her specific brand of comedy was highlighted by fans and critics alike.

During her time with "The Chris Rock Show," Sykes started to rise to fame, and even took home the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special in 1999 — if that wasn't enough, she was nominated for an additional three Emmy Awards. Funny thing about winning an Emmy though — it costs the winner $400, per Reader's Digest. That's right, Sykes may have snagged the trophy, but she had to dish out money in order to take her statue home.

The actress lent her voice to a number of projects, solidifying her star status

Wanda Sykes has a very distinct style of comedy — it's sharp, quick, and incredibly clever. But in addition to her career-defining writing, Sykes also has a very unique voice, so her decision to lend her vocals to animated film projects makes a ton of sense. By the mid-2000s, Sykes had solidified herself as a performer and comedy genius, and she joined the likes of DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox in their animated features. As per her IMDb page, Sykes lent her skills to the 2006 hit animated film "Over the Hedge," bringing the outlandish skunk Stella to life. That same year, Sykes voiced Bessy the Cow in "Barnyard," and went on to contribute to the project's video game and television series.

Perhaps the most iconic animated film franchise that Sykes became a part of was "Ice Age," as she voiced Granny in the fourth installment of the film, "Ice Age 4: Continental Drift," in 2012. Of course, Sykes was a very well-known name (and voice) and was taking home thousands at that point, with NCERT Point estimating that she had a rate of $8,000 per week. 

Wanda Sykes started her own production company in 2013

The early 2010s definitely seemed to solidify Wanda Sykes as a bonafide comedy star, and the momentum her career enjoyed motivated her to branch out on her own. In 2013, she and Page Hurwitz — a screenwriter known for her work with Netflix and OWN — started their own production company called Push It Productions, and their work really hit the ground running. Per the Push It website, the production company was initially founded to roll out "high quality comedy programming" that not only challenged comedic notions, but "promote[d] diversity in front of and behind the camera." Given Sykes' resume and Hurwitz's industry knowledge, it's no surprise that Push It has carved its own space in comedy production.

Since its inception, Push It Productions has been the creative force behind a number of original content "across all comedy genres," per its website. From full length sitcoms to documentaries to talk shows to sketch comedy, Sykes and Hurwitz's company has definitely been providing us with lots of funny content. Working with the likes of NBC, Epix, OWN, and Netflix, Push It serves as one of Sykes' crowning career achievements. No wonder she has $10 million in the bank.

She opened up about living within her means

Wanda Sykes may have a pretty impressive net worth, but she's not out of touch when it comes to spending. In a 2012 sit-down with Black Enterprise, Sykes talked about a variety of topics, ranging from her family to her comedy brand to her career mentors. And if that wasn't enough info for her fans, Sykes also opened up about financial security. When asked what was the "best financial advice" she had gotten over the course of her career, Sykes did not mince her words: "Live within your means."

"Just because all of a sudden you're coming into this money, it really shouldn't change you as far as who you are and the things you value," Sykes said about financial stability and monetary advice. She continued, telling Black Enterprise that she's never been the type to go buy a "big stupid car and all that." 

"If [those are] the things that [are] going to make you happy, then there's something else you need to check out before doing that," she added. Clearly, Sykes knows what it takes to work hard, save some cash, and invest in purchases that really matter.

The comedian left a paying job for this important reason

While Wanda Sykes certainly has the pick of the comedy litter, it doesn't mean that she's put money or her net worth ahead of her morals. In 2018, Sykes was hired as a consultant on the revival of the hit 1980s show, "Roseanne," starring Roseanne Barr. Since the original show went off the air, Barr had become a rather polarizing figure in political media, and the revival — as Sykes saw it — presented an opportunity to show two sides of the political coin. But after Barr took to Twitter with racist messaging about a former Obama administration official, Sykes promptly quit her role as a consulting producer, telling The Guardian that she was saddened by Barr's tweet, but not shocked.

To make matters worse, Barr blamed Sykes' departure for the revival's eventual cancellation — that's enough to make anyone bitter, but Sykes revealed that she viewed Barr with compassion. "[There are] some mental issues — she's said so herself — and I think for anyone with mental issues, social media is not the place you should be," Sykes said. "I was telling my producing partner: 'We have to get her off social media, this is nuts.'"

Wanda Sykes demanded her worth at Netflix

To say that Wanda Sykes has made herself known as a comedic genius is an understatement, but even to this day, she knows what it means to negotiate for herself. In a 2019 interview with Variety, Sykes shared that while the amount of original content being pushed through on streaming services has been great for her stand-up career, she's had to take it upon herself to get the money she deserves in the process. "Before it was always, what are the buyers looking for on the production side?" Sykes told Variety. "Now so many buyers are out there ... You don't have to focus on what people are buying. We can focus on what stories you want to tell."

Despite being very clear with her comedic intentions, Sykes revealed that the initial offer from streaming giant Netflix for a previous stand-up special made her feel "low-balled," and she ended up rejecting the offer. With a smile, Sykes shared that the only reason she struck a deal with Netflix the next time around was because, "They moved that comma," indicating that the offer was far more in the ballpark she pictured. Pay women what they deserve — it's that simple!

She kept her Netflix deals and professional life going via Zoom

You'd think that the COVID-19 pandemic would've changed absolutely everything for performers — and you'd be correct. Wanda Sykes was one such comic who lost the ability to tour and perform for in-person crowds due to the pandemic, but she didn't let the coronavirus stop her from making lucrative deals. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sykes shared that the pandemic actually allowed her to work on comedy projects that had been on the back-burner for some time, and her work-from-home setup in the basement was perfect for Zoom meetings.

"I have a couple of projects that I've been asked to work on and I never had a chance, so I'm now looking into those things and trying to develop a few other shows," Sykes shared of her pandemic-shifted career goals. "Networks are buying now because they're going to need content, so it's about getting things ready to pitch. We've actually had a couple of pitches via Zoom, which is ... weird," she continued. And yes, even two years into the pandemic, we're in total agreement that Zoom meetings are, in fact, weird.

The actress owns two homes

Most of us can't even imagine owning one home, let alone two! But given her hard work, lucrative deals, and determined authenticity, Wanda Sykes is a double homeowner who enjoys the "simple life" that Delaware County, Pennsylvania allows. In an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Sykes shared that her home in Media, Pennsylvania — about an hour outside of the city — is the perfect speed for her. "I know most of the police officers in town," she said. "Not because I've been arrested, but because it's a small town."

When she's not in the small town of Media enjoying life with her wife and two kids, Sykes can typically be found in her home in Los Angeles — the Inquirer described her as having a "bicoastal lifestyle." The comedian shared with the newspaper that having homes in both a bustling city and a small suburban town allows her to have the best of both worlds — access to both a career hub and a professional escape. And thanks to her interview with The Hollywood Reporter, we know that Sykes' basement serves as her home office. We have to imagine that her basement isn't full of old boxes and an unused treadmill like so many of ours.

Wanda Sykes has called out others for problematic financial investments

When it comes to finances, Wanda Sykes has certainly been more forthcoming than most. She's shared what it's like to live within your means, how she demanded her worth, and she's even discussed her money and its interests on social media and in her stand-up. For example, Sykes took to Twitter in 2019 and told her followers that if they themselves are investors in the stock market, they should really look at where their money is being invested. "Ask your [financial] planner if any of your funds are invested in private prisons or detention centers," Sykes posted. "I did over a year ago after watching [Ava DuVernay's "13th"]. I was. I got out. Make sure your money follows your heart and is in tune with your words." A powerful message from a powerful woman.

In a similar move that not only packed a powerful message, but had fans laughing in the audience, Sykes shared during a stand-up set that everyone should be invested in weed. "I called my broker, I was like, 'Hey, put all my money in weed,'" Sykes said to a cackling crowd. "The price of weed never goes down."

The comedian has hit the road again and is touring in 2022

So what's Wanda Sykes' main source of income in 2022? While it's safe to assume that Push It Productions has a significant stake in the comedian's pocket book, and that she may or may not be invested in the weed industry, she'll once again make a profit from touring around the country. Per her website, Sykes is set to embark on a country-wide comedy tour starting on April 30, 2022 at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, California. From there, she'll travel to Florida, New England, hit her now-home state of Pennsylvania, and then head off to New Jersey, Indiana, and Michigan.

What should fans expect of the funny lady? Since the 2016 election, Sykes has made her disdain for Donald Trump clear and has held nothing back, so spectators can certainly assume that she'll take aim at a variety of political issues (per NPR). Sykes is also slated to host the 2022 Academy Awards alongside Amy Schumer and Regina Hall, so it seems safe to say that her bank account and comedic profile will only continue to rise.