John Kani’s Net Worth and Best Movies

John Kani’s net worth is estimated at $6 million (R110.3 million) in 2024. His best movies include Hollywood blockbusters like Captain America: Civil War (2016), Black Panther (2018), and The Lion King (2019).

The legendary actor began acting in the theatres in the early 1960s. Throughout his over five decades-long career, he has featured in numerous plays and has also written critically acclaimed plays, including Sizwe Banzi is Dead. John Kani has further racked up his total wealth by starring in many commercially successful movies. For his remarkable impact and dedication to art, he was honored with the Order of British Empire (OBE).

How Much is John Kani’s Net Worth as of 2024?

John Kani is said to have a net worth of $6 million (R110.3 million) as of 2024. He ranks as one of the top ten richest actors in South Africa. The talented playwright, director, producer, and author has achieved a decorated career on stage, TV, and film. He is famously known for co-writing the Tony Award-winning plays Sizwe Banzi is Dead and The Island with Winston Ntshona and Athol Fugard.

The two plays have been performed in repertory at the Edison Theatre on Broadway in New York for a total of 52 times. Kani also has conducted workshops in Washington DC, New York, and Los Angeles. He additionally diversified his income sources by co-founding the Market Theatre Laboratory with Barney Simon in 1989/1990. The institution provides training to underprivileged young people who are unable to acquire theatrical skills.

Interestingly, John Kani’s successful career has attained him numerous accolades in South Africa and beyond. While he was awarded The Order of Ikhamanga in Silver by the South African Government, he was honored with the Special Obie Award in the United States.

John Kani’s Net Worth Sources

Through the years, John Kani has explored diverse aspects of entertainment and has not limited his talent to only acting and playwriting. They include film/TV production, play directing, and TV content creation. He also has penned a few books that have sold thousands of copies. That said, here is a sneak peek into John Kani’s net worth sources.


After matriculating from Newell High School, John Kani started working with several drama groups. Thus, he performed in community halls and schools. He later joined a drama group known as the Serpent Players in 1965, and there, he got acquainted with Athol Fugard. The group created many plays that were performed to a resounding but, unfortunately, weren’t published.

In 1987, he portrayed the character of Othello in William Shakespeare’s play of the same name in SA. He further played a role in another play, My Children My Africa!, and received an Olivier Award nomination for the role. Later, in 2008, he was cast as Caliban in the stage production of The Tempest at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town, Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, and on tour of Sheffield, Nottingham, and Leeds.

He subsequently had roles in plays―Missing (2014) and Kunene and the King (2019). While the 80-year-old actor kicked off his stage career in the 1960s, his career on TV took off in 1974 when he featured in BBC2 Playhouse as Styles/Buntu. He also had a role in Play for Today four years later. Then, from 1985 to 2015, he had more than nine TV roles.

He played Willie in Master Harold…and the Boys, Dr. Vincent Maloka in Hillside, Daddy Bapetsi in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, and Mkhuseli Mthetho in iNkaba. In 2021, he had a voice role as T’Chaka in What If…? More so, John Kani has over 28 film credits, contributing to his jaw-dropping net worth. He portrayed Sgt. Jesse Link in the 1978 film The Wild Geese and also scored roles in Marigolds in August (1980) and Killing Heat (1981).

In the 90s, Kani was featured in popular films like Sarafina! and The Ghost and the Darkness. He additionally had roles in End Game (2009) and How to Steal 2 Million (2011) before starring in Hollywood box office hits – Captain America: Civil War (2016), Black Panther (2018), and The Lion King (2019), as well as Netflix film, Murder Mystery and its sequel, Murder Mystery 2.


In 1972, John Kani co-wrote the multi-award-winning play Sizwe Bansi is Dead With Athol Fugard and Winston Ntshona. The following year, the trio wrote another play, The Island inspired by The Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. The plays were performed on both South African and international stages. In 1974, when Winston and Kani went on tour, the duo received the Tony Award for Best Actor for both plays in New York.

Furthermore, John Kani co-wrote another play, Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act, with Ntshona and Fugard. He then debuted as a sole playwright in 2002 when he wrote Nothing But the Truth. The play won three Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards and is now studied in South African schools. In 2014, he wrote another critically acclaimed play, Missing, followed by Kunene and the King in 2019.

Play Directing

Throughout his decades-long career, Kani has directed several plays. They include Blues Africa Cafe, The Meeting, Kagoos, and Goree performed at The Market Theatre. Whereas The Last Bus, Friday’s Bread on Monday, and Sellout were held at The Serpent Players. He made his debut as a film director in 2008 with an adaptation of his play, Nothing But the Truth.

The movie received the Silver Etalon de Yennega at the Ouagadougou Panafrican Film and Television Festival.

Book Authoring

In 2002, John Kani’s net worth was boosted as he published his play, Nothing But the Truth. “Missing: A Play” was also authored by the veteran playwright and is available at many online bookshops, including Goodreads. His 2019 play, Kunene and the King, has also been adapted into a book. It was published by Jonathan Ball Publishers in April 2021.

Film/TV Production

In addition to making his film directorial debut in 2008, John Kani clinched his first TV production credit with the film adaptation of his play Nothing But the Truth in 2008. He also served as the executive producer of the TV series iNkaba. He was the creator of the drama series in which he featured between 2012 and 2013.

What Is John Kani’s Best Movie?

John Kani is best known for playing the role of T’Chaka in the 2018 American superhero film Black Panther. He was the father of T’Challa, played by the late Hollywood actor Chadwick Boseman. He influenced his onscreen son to speak the Xhosa language in the movie. He won the BAM Award for Best Cast, which he shared with other cast members.

Black Panther grossed over $1.3 billion at the box office worldwide and was the second-highest-grossing film of 2018. Also, the remake of Lion King (2019), where John Kani played the role of Rafiki, had a box office gross of over $1.6 billion worldwide. Consequently, it emerged as the second-highest film of 2019.

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