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Denzel Washington

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Title: Denzel Washington  
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Subject: Flight (2012 film), List of black Golden Globe Award winners and nominees, Did you know nominations/The Racketeer (novel), Sean Penn, Jack Nicholson
Collection: 1954 Births, 20Th-Century American Male Actors, 21St-Century American Male Actors, African-American Basketball Players, African-American Christians, African-American Film Directors, African-American Male Actors, American Christians, American Film Directors, American Male Film Actors, American Male Shakespearean Actors, American Male Stage Actors, American Male Television Actors, American Pentecostals, Basketball Players from New York, Best Actor Academy Award Winners, Best Drama Actor Golden Globe (Film) Winners, Best Supporting Actor Academy Award Winners, Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe (Film) Winners, Church of God in Christ, English-Language Film Directors, Fordham Rams Men's Basketball Players, Living People, Mainland High School Alumni, Male Actors from New York, Members of the Church of God in Christ, Obie Award Recipients, People from Mount Vernon, New York, Point Guards, Silver Bear for Best Actor Winners, Tony Award Winners
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Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington
Washington in 2000
Born Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr.
(1954-12-28) December 28, 1954
Mount Vernon, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Fordham University
Occupation Actor, filmmaker
Years active 1974–present
Spouse(s) Pauletta Pearson (m. 1983)
Children 4

Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr. (born December 28, 1954) is an American actor and filmmaker. He has received two Golden Globe awards, a Tony Award,[1] and two Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor for the historical drama-war film Glory (1989) and Best Actor for his role as a corrupt cop in the crime thriller Training Day (2001).[2]

Washington has received much critical acclaim for his film work since the 1990s, including his portrayals of real-life figures such as South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko in Cry Freedom (1987), Muslim minister and human rights activist Malcolm X in Malcolm X (1992), boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter in The Hurricane (1999), football coach Herman Boone in Remember the Titans (2000), poet and educator Melvin B. Tolson in The Great Debaters (2007), and drug kingpin Frank Lucas in American Gangster (2007). He has been a featured actor in the films produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and has been a frequent collaborator of directors Spike Lee and the late Tony Scott.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
    • Early work 2.1
    • 1990s 2.2
    • 2000s 2.3
    • Return to theater 2.4
    • 2010s 2.5
  • Personal life 3
  • Filmography 4
  • Awards and nominations 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life and education

Washington was born in Harlem.[3][4][5][6]

Washington attended Pennington-Grimes Elementary School in Mount Vernon until 1968. When he was 14, his parents broke up, and his mother sent him to a private preparatory school, Oakland Military Academy in New Windsor, New York. "That decision changed my life," Washington later said, "because I wouldn't have survived in the direction I was going. The guys I was hanging out with at the time, my running buddies, have now done maybe 40 years combined in the penitentiary. They were nice guys, but the streets got them."[7] After Oakland, Washington next attended Mainland High School, a public high school in Daytona Beach, Florida, from 1970 to 1971.[3] He was interested in attending Texas Tech University: "I grew up in the Boys Club in Mount Vernon, and we were the Red Raiders. So when I was in high school, I wanted to go to Texas Tech in Lubbock just because they were called the Red Raiders and their uniforms looked like ours."[8] Washington earned a B.A. in Drama and Journalism from Fordham University in 1977.[9] At Fordham, he played collegiate basketball as a guard[10] under coach P.J. Carlesimo.[11] After a period of indecision on which major to study and dropping out of school for a semester, Washington worked as creative arts director at an overnight summer camp, Camp Sloane YMCA in Lakeville, Connecticut. He participated in a staff talent show for the campers and a colleague suggested he try acting.[12]

Returning to Fordham that fall with a renewed purpose, Washington enrolled at the Lincoln Center campus to study acting, and where he was given the title roles in Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones and Shakespeare's Othello. He then attended graduate school at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where he stayed for one year before returning to New York to begin a professional acting career.[13]


Early work

Washington at the 62nd Academy Awards, at which he won Best Supporting Actor for the film Glory.

Washington spent the summer of 1976 in St. Mary's City, Maryland, in summer stock theater performing Wings of the Morning,[14][15] the Maryland State play, which was written for him by incorporating an African-American character/narrator based loosely on the historical figure from early colonial Maryland, Mathias Da Sousa.[14] He also filmed a series of commercials in the Fruit of the Loom ensemble, as Grapes. Shortly after graduating from Fordham, Washington made his screen acting debut in the 1977 made-for-television film Wilma, and his first Hollywood appearance in the 1981 film Carbon Copy. He shared a 1982 Distinguished Ensemble Performance Obie Award for playing Private First Class Melvin Peterson in the Off-Broadway Negro Ensemble Company production A Soldier's Play which premiered November 20, 1981.[16]

A major career break came when he starred as Dr. Phillip Chandler in Hard Lessons (1986) and Power (1986). In 1987, he starred as South African anti-apartheid political activist Steven Biko in Richard Attenborough's Cry Freedom, for which he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 1989, Washington won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of a defiant, self-possessed ex-slave soldier in the film Glory. That same year, he appeared in the film The Mighty Quinn; and in For Queen and Country, where he played the conflicted and disillusioned Reuben James, a British soldier who, despite a distinguished military career, returns to a civilian life where racism and inner city life lead to vigilantism and violence.


Washington's signature in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre

In 1990, Washington starred as Bleek Gilliam in the Spike Lee film Mo' Better Blues. In 1992, he starred as Demetrius Williams in the romantic drama Mississippi Masala. Washington was reunited with Lee to play one of his most critically acclaimed roles, the title character of 1992's Malcolm X. His performance as the black nationalist leader earned him another nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. The next year he played the lawyer of a gay man with AIDS in the 1993 film Philadelphia. During the early and mid-1990s, Washington starred in several successful thrillers, including The Pelican Brief and Crimson Tide, as well as in the movie of the Shakespearean comedy Much Ado About Nothing. In 1996, he played a U.S. Army officer who, despondent about a deadly mistake he made, investigates a female chopper commander's worthiness for the Medal of Honor in Courage Under Fire with Meg Ryan. In 1996, he appeared with Whitney Houston in the romantic drama The Preacher's Wife.[17]

In 1998, Washington starred in Spike Lee's film He Got Game. Washington played a father serving a six-year prison term when the prison warden offers him a temporary parole to convince his top-ranked high-school basketball player son (Ray Allen) to sign with the governor's alma mater, Big State. The film was Washington's third collaboration with Lee.[18]

In 1999, Washington starred in The Hurricane, a film about boxer Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter, whose conviction for triple murder was overturned after he spent almost 20 years in prison. A former reporter, who was angry that the film portrayed Carter as innocent despite the overturned conviction, began a campaign to pressure Academy Award voters not to vote for the film.[19] Washington did receive a Golden Globe Award in 2000 and a Silver Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival for the role.


In 2000, Washington appeared in the Disney film Remember the Titans which grossed over $100 million in the U.S.[20]

Washington won a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Dramatic Movie for his work in The Hurricane in 2000. He was the first black actor to win the award since Sidney Poitier in 1963.[21][22]

Washington won an Academy Award for Best Actor for the 2001 cop thriller Training Day, where he played Detective Alonzo Harris, a corrupt Los Angeles cop with questionable law-enforcement tactics. He was the second African-American performer to win an Academy Award for Best Actor. The first was Sidney Poitier, who was presented with an Honorary Academy Award the same night. Washington currently holds the records for most Oscar nominations (six) and the most wins (two) by an actor of African descent.

After appearing in 2002's box office success, the healthcare-themed John Q., Washington directed his first film, a well-reviewed drama called Antwone Fisher, in which he also co-starred.

Between 2003 and 2004, Washington appeared in a series of thrillers that performed generally well at the box office, including Out of Time, Man on Fire, and The Manchurian Candidate.[23] In 2006, he starred in Inside Man, a Spike Lee-directed bank heist thriller co-starring Jodie Foster and Clive Owen, released in March, and Déjà Vu.

In 2006, Washington worked alongside multitalented Irish off-rock band The Script on a project combining music and Hollywood. The hybrid of genres was critically acclaimed, but didn't receive much mainstream attention because of legal conflicts between The Script's record label and Denzel's studio commitments.

In 2007, Washington co-starred with Russell Crowe, for the second time after 1995's Virtuosity, in American Gangster. He also directed and starred in the drama The Great Debaters with Forest Whitaker. He next appeared in Tony Scott's 2009 film The Taking of Pelham 123 (a remake of the 1974 thriller of the same name), where he played New York City subway security chief Walter Garber opposite John Travolta's villain.[24]

Return to theater

Washington after a performance of Julius Caesar in May 2005.

In the summer of 1990, Washington appeared in the title role of the Public Theater's production of Shakespeare's Richard III. In 2005, he appeared onstage again as Marcus Brutus in a Broadway production of Julius Caesar. Despite mixed reviews, the production's limited run was a consistent sell-out.[25] In the spring of 2010, Washington played Troy Maxson, opposite Viola Davis, in the Broadway revival of August Wilson's Fences, for which he won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play on June 13, 2010.[26][27]

From April to June 2014, Washington played the leading role in the Broadway production of Lorraine Hansberry's classic drama A Raisin in the Sun, directed by Kenny Leon.[28] The show received positive reviews and won the 2014 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.[29]


In 2010, Washington starred in The Book of Eli, a post-Apocalyptic drama set in the near future. Also in 2010, he starred as a veteran railroad engineer in the action film Unstoppable, about an unmanned, half-mile-long runaway freight train carrying dangerous cargo. The film was his fifth and final collaboration with director Tony Scott, following Crimson Tide (1995), Man on Fire (2004), Déjà Vu (2006) and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009).

In 2012, Washington starred in Flight, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. He co-starred with Ryan Reynolds in Safe House, where he prepared for his role by subjecting himself to a torture session that included waterboarding.[30]

In 2013, Washington started in 2 Guns, along side Mark Walberg.

In 2014, Washington starred in The Equalizer, an action thriller film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by Richard Wenk, based on the television series of same name starring Edward Woodward.[31]

Personal life

On June 25, 1983, Washington married Pauletta Pearson, whom he met on the set of his first screen work, the television film Wilma. The couple have four children: John David (b. July 28, 1984), a former football player with the United Football League's Sacramento Mountain Lions (and before that, college football at Morehouse);[32] Katia (b. November 27, 1986) who graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts in 2010; and twins Olivia and Malcolm (b. April 10, 1991). Malcolm graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in film studies, and Olivia played a role in Lee Daniels's film The Butler. In 1995, Denzel and Pauletta renewed their wedding vows in South Africa with Archbishop Desmond Tutu officiating.[33]

Washington is a devout Christian,[34] and has considered becoming a preacher. He stated in 1999, "A part of me still says, 'Maybe, Denzel, you're supposed to preach. Maybe you're still compromising.' I've had an opportunity to play great men and, through their words, to preach. I take what talent I've been given seriously, and I want to use it for good."[35] In 1995, he donated $2.5 million to help build the new West Angeles Church of God in Christ facility in Los Angeles.[36][37] Washington says he reads the Bible daily.[38]

Washington has served as the national spokesperson for

External links

  1. ^ "Five Ways Denzel Can Achieve His EGOT Dream". June 14, 2010. Retrieved 2011-08-14. 
  2. ^ (April 4, 2002). "Halle Berry, Denzel Washington get historic wins at Oscars. Jet. Digital version retrieved March 17, 2008. Archived November 8, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b  
  4. ^ "Denzel Washington Biography (1954–)". Retrieved 2011-08-14. 
  5. ^ Ingram, E. Renée (2005). Buckingham County. Arcadia Publishing. p. 55.  
  6. ^
  7. ^ Rader, Dodson (December 12, 1999). "I Try To Send A Good Message". Parade Magazine. Archived from the original on April 11, 2006. Retrieved March 12, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Leach OK with star power".  
  9. ^ "Denzel Washington Returns to Acting Roots". October 28, 2003. Retrieved 2011-08-14. 
  10. ^ Frank Isola, "Spurs Coach Sticks Neck Out for Carlesimo", New York Daily News, June 5, 2003.
  11. ^ Wise, Mike (March 22, 1998). "Pro Basketball" Notebook; Chicago's Jordan-Jackson-Pippen Triangle, page 2". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-08-14. 
  12. ^ Paisner, Daniel A Hand to Guide Me (Meredith Books, 2006), p. 17. ISBN 978-0-696-23049-3
  13. ^ Denzel Washington Biography, accessdate=February 13, 2008
  14. ^ a b "Matthias da Sousa: Colonial Maryland's Black, Jewish Assemblyman", Susan Rosenfeld Falb, MARYLAND HISTORICAL MAGAZINE, VOL. 73, No. 4, DECEMBER 1978
  15. ^ "St. Mary's: A When-Did Timeline", p. 30, By Janet Butler Haugaard, Executive Editor and Writer, St. Mary's College of Maryland with Susan G. Wilkinson, Director of Marketing and Communications, Historic St. Mary's City Commission and Julia A. King, Associate Professor of Anthropology, St. Mary's College of Maryland. St. Mary's Archives.
  16. ^ A Soldier's Play, Lortel Archives
  17. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (11 December 1996). "Praying for Crossover Appeal".  
  18. ^ "Going Fourth Denzel Washington And Spike Lee On Their Quartet Of Movies". Retrieved 2011-08-14. 
  19. ^ Reisinger, Sue. "Ex-Reporter Rains on Denzel's Parade", Miami Herald, April 3, 2000, via
  20. ^ "Remember the Titans (2000)". Box Office Mojo. January 28, 2001. Retrieved 2011-08-14. 
  21. ^ From the archive (March 23, 2000). "All ready for a storm". Herald Scotland. Retrieved February 24, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Denzel Washington and Halle Berry Win Golden Globe Awards". Jet. February 7, 2000. Retrieved February 24, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Denzel Washington Movie Box Office Results".  
  24. ^ The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009) - IMDb
  25. ^ "A Big-Name Brutus in a Cauldron of Chaos", by Ben Brantley, The New York Times, April 4, 2005.
  26. ^ Farley, Christopher John (May 4, 2010). "2010 Tony Award Nominations: Denzel Washington, Scarlett Johansson Earn Nods".  
  27. ^ "BWW TV: 2010 Tony Winners- Washington & Davis", by BroadwayWorld,, June 14, 2010.
  28. ^ "'"Denzel Washington Heads Back To Broadway In 'A Raisin In The Sun. 1 August 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  29. ^ Plays Final Performance Tonight"A Raisin in the Sun"Tony-Winning Revival of . 15 June 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  30. ^ Denzel Washington waterboarded while filming. (2012-02-09). Retrieved on 2013-07-13.
  31. ^ Schaefer, Sandy (October 25, 2012). "Denzel Washington's 'Equalizer' Secures Start Date; Lining Up Directors". Screen Rant.
  32. ^  
  33. ^ "Denzel Washington and Wife Celebrate 27th Wedding Anniversary in Italy",, June 28, 2009
  34. ^ Ojumu, Akin (March 24, 2002). "The Observer Profile: Denzel Washington". The Observer (London). Retrieved February 11, 2008. 
  35. ^ "'"Denzel Washington: 'I Try to Send A Good Message. Parade Magazine. December 12, 1999. 
  36. ^ "Magic gives $5 mil., Denzel gives $2.5 mil. to build new West Angeles COGIC facility in Los Angeles". Jet. November 6, 1995 (link to headline only)
  37. ^ a b Mikkelson, Barbara and David (December 27, 2012). "Denzel Washington". December 28, 2012.
  38. ^ "The GQ&A: Denzel Washington". 
  39. ^ "Board". Retrieved 2011-08-14. 
  40. ^ "BE GREAT Alumni". Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-14. 
  41. ^ "Denzel Washington". Retrieved 16 June 2015. 
  42. ^ Ragland, James (2012-01-26). "Wiley College vs. USC: A debate rematch 77 years in the making | The Dallas Morning News". Retrieved 2013-08-20. 
  43. ^ "'"Denzel Washington: Clint Eastwood Still 'My Hero. Huffington Post. September 21, 2012. 
  44. ^ "Colombian rebels ask Denzel Washington to help broker hostage exchange".  
  45. ^ "COMMENCEMENTS: Fordham Graduates Urged to Defend the Poor". New York Times. May 19, 1991. 
  46. ^ "Morehouse Celebrates an 'End of an Era' with a Special Commencement Message from Dr. Walter E. Massey", Morehouse College press release, May 15, 2007,
  47. ^ "Award-Winning Actor Denzel Washington Delivers Penn's 255th Commencement Address" press release
  48. ^ Eichner, Itamar (2008-02-06). "Denzel Washington to visit Israel". Retrieved January 27, 2010. 
  49. ^


Awards and nominations


In April 2014, Washington presented at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Easter Bonnet Competition with Bryan Cranston, Idina Menzel and Fran Drescher, after raising donations at his Broadway show Raisin in the Sun.[49]

In 2008, Washington visited Israel with a delegation of African-American artists in honor of the state's 60th birthday.[48]

On May 18, 1991, Washington was awarded an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Fordham University, for having "impressively succeeded in exploring the edge of his multifaceted talent".[45] In 2011, he donated $2 million to Fordham for an endowed chair of the theater department, as well as $250,000 to establish a theater-specific scholarship at the school. He also received an honorary doctorate of humanities from Morehouse College on May 20, 2007.[46] and an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania on May 16, 2011.[47]

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia named Washington as one of three people (the others being directors Oliver Stone and Michael Moore) with whom they were willing to negotiate for the release of three defense contractors the group had held captive from 2003 to 2008.[44]

Washington is an Independent voter. He supported Barack Obama in 2008.[43]

In mid-2004, Washington visited Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) at Fort Sam Houston, where he participated in a Purple Heart ceremony, presenting medals to three Army soldiers recovering from wounds they received while stationed in Iraq. He also visited the fort's Fisher House facilities, and after learning that it had exceeded its capacity, made a substantial donation to the Fisher House Foundation. Washington's other charitable contributions include $1 million to the Children's Fund of South Africa[37] and $1 million to Wiley College to resuscitate the college's debate team.[42]

[41] In addition, he has served as a board member for Boys & Girls Clubs of America since 1995.[40]

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