Celebrated comedian and actor Kevin Hart made a surprise visit at a local bank where he stressed the importance of African Americans becoming more financially literate as a means of living a better life and achieving their goals.
Hart spoke at the Chase Bank branch at the Skyland Town Center in Southeast on Nov. 3 before a group of 40 people. During an hour-long discussion moderated by Alfonso Guzman, the regional director for the Chase, Hart said becoming financially solvent took time and a lot of learning on his part.
“The financial journey never stops,” Hart said. “You need access to information in order to be financially independent. It won’t be given to you. You have to go out and find it.”
In a 2021 edition of WealthyGorilla.com, Hart counts as the 14th richest comedian in the world with an estimated worth of $200 million. Since launching his career in 2001, Hart has performed stand-up comedy shows in person and on television, starred in two Jumanji films and launched the Laugh Out Loud Network, a subscription video streaming service in partnership with Lionsgate.
Hart said he became wealthy by becoming educated in the best ways to save his money, investing his funds in a deliberate manner and learning about financial markets and commercial tools.
The comedian said his road to financial prosperity came with plenty of bumps.
“There were times when I was upside down financially,” he said. “I didn’t understand the world of taxes and I would put my money in the wrong things. It took me time to learn that it was better if I used an LLC to house my earnings instead of getting a straight paycheck for my work.”
Hart said he practices thriftiness by “living off a quarter.”
“Out of every dollar, I live off of a quarter,” he said. “Taxes take up 40 to 45 cents and the other portion goes to paying bills and other obligations. The rest, a quarter, is what I live off of. I also try to put something to the side.”
In pointing out the importance of financial literacy, Hart relayed a story about the time he missed out on a chance to make millions of dollars more than a decade ago.
“An investor and friend of mine told me of an opportunity to invest in a new company called Uber,” he said. “The investor told me it was a company that paid people to use their own cars to pick up and take other people places. I told him it would never work and he was crazy. Now, Uber is worth billions of dollars. I often think of how much money I would have if I had invested in Uber.”
The comedian appeared to be flabbergasted when told that 20% of Blacks in the District don’t have a bank account.
“That is not the fault of the people but the banks,” he said. “The banks should be reaching out to the community. That’s why I am glad Chase is taking the step in the direction of connecting to people. Black people have to learn why banking is important and how to make money work for them.”
Hart said despite the coronavirus pandemic and the economic recession, budding entrepreneurs should open their businesses now.
“COVID hit and hurt a lot of people including myself,” he said. “But this is a good time to start a business. Interest rates are low. There are opportunities now available to people that were not available before the pandemic hit.”
Hart also encouraged the gathering to be persistent in reaching their goals.
“You are going to hear ‘no’ a lot more than ‘yes,’” he said. “But it isn’t about the ‘no’– it’s about the ‘yes.’ ‘No’ should motivate you to do more. One ‘no’ doesn’t stop a show, ”he said.