Denzel Washington was born on December 28, 1954 in Mount Vernon, New York. His father was a Pentecostal minister and his mother a beautician who also owned her own hair salon. Young Denzel first appeared in his church at age six singing gospel songs and later became ordained as an Elder at the Trinity United Church of Christ in San Francisco before attending college
In addition to acting, Washington has narrated several documentaries and is the host of “National Geographic Explorer”. He has also demonstrated his skills as a director in the Tony Award-winning Broadway production “Fences”, among other projects.
About Denzel Washington
Washington is a devout Christian who has spoken out on numerous occasions against racism and in support of racial equality. His two sons are enrolled in the New Orleans Charter School and he has been a board member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. He is also a firm believer in education and serves as an advocate for children to receive an education regardless of their circumstances. To that end, he has established The Denzel Washington Scholarship Foundation.
Washington is an openly sought-after actor due to his versatility in performing artistically across a spectrum of genres, from action to drama to comedy. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Hurricane Carter in “The Hurricane” (1999).
Life of Denzel
Denzel Washington was born in Mount Vernon, New York, U.S., the son of Lucian Evans Washington, Sr., a Pentecostal minister, and Carmen Johnson. He was named after his paternal great-grandfather, who died at age 6 months old. His father was an accomplished musician, both on trumpet and piano. His mother is a hairdresser; she tried to get Denzel interested in performing at an early age by playing him gospel music as he came home from school. In 1971 the family moved to San Francisco and Washington graduated from James Lick Middle School in 1972.
Denzel Washington pursued his education at San Francisco State University, majoring in psychology and minored in philosophy. While at SFU Washington was the president of Black Student Union, a member of the University Film and Video Association, the varsity basketball team and a member of Lambda Theta Phi fraternity. Washington left SFU after his sophomore year to pursue acting and began getting small roles on television.
His personal life
In 1974, Denzel Washington met actress Pauletta Pearson at a nightclub in New York. They married in 1975, but the union only lasted for two years. In 1977, Washington began a long-term relationship with actress Marianne Margaret Smith and they remained together for seven years.
The marriage with Pearson was only part of the life turmoil of Washington’s youth. He also became involved with gangs during high school and even shot at cars before he turned 16 years old. Once he turned 18, however, he completed his senior year of high school and graduated on June 4, 1978.
Denzel Washington first appeared on television with a guest-starring role in the 1975 ABC police drama “Nakia”. He followed that with a guest role as Buck Rogers in an episode of “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”, also in 1975. The following year he was cast as Dr. Phillip Chandler in the medical show, “St. Elsewhere”. His character was supposed to have been killed after five episodes, but due to his strong performance, he remained on the show until 1988.
In 1976, Washington made his feature film debut in the blaxploitation action-comedy “Coffy” opposite Pam Grier and Richard Roundtree. The film was a star vehicle for Grier who had just won a Golden Globe for her performance. The film, though it received dismal reviews, became one of the highest-grossing films of the year with over $25 million in domestic ticket sales.
In 1977, Washington appeared in “Village of the Giants”, a drama concerning an African tribe that was oppressed by a private military company. He played the role of Uncle Sammy and it went largely unreviewed by critics.
Following a decade away from the film, Denzel Washington returned to the screen with the 1990 release of “Mo’ Better Blues”, opposite Denzel’s real-life half-brother, actor, Malcolm-Jamal Warner. The film was released to generally positive reviews and it won him an Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead. In addition, he began a romantic relationship with co-star Robin Givens.
In 1991, Washington starred in “Wolf”, an independently made film about the life of Native American preacher and warrior, Geronimo. Based on the novel by James Welch and adapted by Michael Blake, it was his first leading role in a major picture since “Carbon Copy” (1981). The film was a box office success, grossing over $28 million domestically. “Wolf” also garnered Washington critical praise and he was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance.
Washington played a cab driver on a mission to save the soul of his brother, a drug dealer caught up in violence on the mean streets of Newark in “The Taking of Pelham 123” (1998). He reprised the role in its successful sequel, “”. In another action film, he played an undercover cop who tries to help his colleagues uncover corruption within New York City’s police department “The Negotiator” (1998).
After a series of critically acclaimed performances such as “Courage Under Fire” (1996), “Out of Time” (2003), and “Man on Fire” (2004), Denzel Washington won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in 2001’s “Training Day”, where he played a narcotics officer who becomes increasingly corrupt during his 24 hours as an undercover cop. This role also performed him in the Golden Globe best actor category.
Washington won the 2005 Golden Globe award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama and was nominated again for the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama for his portrayal of real-life doctor and activist Martin Luther King, Jr. in 2006’s epic “King”. He was also nominated for an Oscar for “Best Actor in a Leading Role” but lost to Jamie Foxx, who portrayed Ray Charles in the R-rated biopic, “Ray”.
Washington directed his first film, “Antwone Fisher”, in 2002. The film debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and it won Washington both the Golden Globe Award and Academy Award for Best Actor. He has also directed “The Great Debaters” (2007), an adaptation of a true story about the 1930s debaters from Wiley College.
Return to theater
Denzel Washington appeared in several theater productions during the 2000s. He played the title role in “Julius Caesar” during the summer of 2003 at The Public Theater alongside Adrian Lester and Jeffrey Wright. Later that same year, he starred alongside Vivica A. Fox and Academy Award winner Viola Davis in a production of August Wilson’s play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” at The Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California. In 2006, Washington was selected to co-star with Tony Goldwyn, Sandra Bullock, and Meryl Streep in “The Lake House”, a film scheduled for release in April 2007.
In 2008, he appeared in “Ecclesiastes” directed by Michael Winterbottom, in a production of the same name at the Lincoln Center. The production was direct by Tony Taccone and featured Maya Stange as the young Queen Esther. He also starred in the 2008 revival of “The Candy Shop War”.
Washington’s latest project is a film adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Richard III”. To be direct by Joe Wright and starring Washington opposite Kenneth Branagh as Richard III. In March 2009, it was reveale that Washington would appear opposite Ewan McGregor in the 2010 action drama, “The Adjustment Bureau”.
In 2011, Denzel Washington starred opposite Kevin Costner in the baseball film “Trouble with the Curve” as Gus Lobel. He also co-starred with Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta in “Parker” as an undercover agent tracking down a drug lord.
In 2012, he played Nick Rice in David Fincher’s thriller film “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. In 2013, Washington hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live which featured his impersonation of President Barack Obama. He starred in Spike Lee’s remake of the South Korean film “Oldboy” in 2014. This time playing the role of Joe Doucett, initially turned down by Josh Brolin. Washington direct and star in the horror film “The Conjuring” (2013). A supernatural horror film about Perron, who was accuse of murdering his wife and child in the 1970s. He also played Nelson Van Alden in the sixth and final season of “The Wire”.
In 2015, Washington star as John Merrick in the biographical period drama “The Liberator”. A story about Merrick, an albino man. Who is born with a condition that causes him to be ostracize from society.
Washington reprised his role as Nick Rice in David Fincher’s 2014 film adaptation of the novel of the same name. The film is set at Langley under CIA Director Walter Burke.
Denzel Washington will star as TBA in an action film titled “The Equalizer 2”. Reprising his role from the 2014 film. He will also lead as Lumen Pierce in the upcoming erotic thriller “The Girl in the Spider’s Web”. Which is an adaption of David Lagercrantz’s novel of the same name.
Washington is a member of the Democratic Party, and supported Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. In 2007, he attended a rally in Las Vegas designed to bring awareness to veterans issues. Washington is a longtime supporter of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, donating thousands of dollars to various campaigns. He has also served as an industry advisor for new media startup AllVid. And has lobbied Congress on behalf of cable television programmers with respect to Internet video services.
Awards and honor
Denzel Washington has been nominate for two Golden Globe Awards, one Academy Award, and one Tony Award. He won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical. And was nominate for two Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Actor in a Musical.
Washington is list in “Guinness World Records” as the highest-paid actor for his work in the film American Gangster (2007). He received $20 million to act in the film. Washington was award an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Howard University on May 8, 2010. At their 154th Commencement Ceremony, where he delivered the keynote speech. Washington was honor by President Barack Obama. With the 2,431st star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on September 19, 2010.