"I'm very proud to be black, but black is not all I am. That's my cultural historical background, my genetic makeup, but it's not all of who I am nor is it the basis from which I answer every question." Denzel Washington
American actor Denzel Washington was launched to superstardom after portraying the lead of crooked policeman Alonzo Boyd in the 2001 gritty cop drama Training Day, directed by Antoine Fuqua. Due to his stunning acting, Washington was honored with an Academy Award, a Black Reel award, a MTV Movie award and a Kansas City Film Critics Circle award. One of the most highly respected actors of the 1990's, Denzel Washington won a Golden Globe award, a NAACP Image Award, as well as received an Academy Award nomination for playing the title role of champion boxer Ruben 'Hurricane' Carter in Norman Jewison's Hurricane (1999). In the mid 1990s, Washington took home six NAACP Image Awards for his bright work in the 1995 Crimson Tide, the animated television series Happily Ever After: Rumpelstiltskin (1995), Happily Ever After: Mother Goose (1997) and 1996’s Courage Under Fire.
In 1992, Washington received critical raves and praise after playing the title character of the Black Nationalist leader in Spike Lee's Malcolm X (1992). Due to his outstanding acting, he picked up such awards as a Berlin Film Festival award, a Boston Film Critics Association award, a New York Film Critics Circle award and a MTV Movie award. Additionally, Washington received an Oscar nomination. A year before, he netted a NAACP Image for his starring role of Demetrius Williams, a man in love with an India-born woman, in the 1991 Mississippi Masala. He also drew attention for his impressive, scene-stealing, embittered-yet-courageous runaway slave-turned-soldier. Private Trip in director Edward Zwick's Civil War drama Glory (1989), for which he was handed both an Academy and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. In a more recent film, Washington nabbed an Image award, a PGA Golden Laurel award and a Black Reel award for his great work in his directorial debut, the 2002 Antwone Fisher.
On stage, Denzel Washington made a name for himself when he performed with the Negro Ensemble Company to originate the role of Private First Class Melvin Peterson in Charles Fuller's Pulitzer-winning "A Soldier's Play" (1981), in which he won an Obie award. He added to his stage accomplishments an Audelco for playing the lead of Malcolm Shabazz in New Federal Theater's production of "When the Chicken Comes Home to Roost" (1981).
Off screen, Denzel Washington was listed as one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in the World (1990) and was voted the 77th of Empire magazine's 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History (1995). He established himself as a philanthropist after donating money for building a Fisher House at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), and is a passionate supporter of such charities as Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, the Gathering Place (an AIDS hospice) and his church. As for his private life, tall, strikingly handsome Washington spends his life out of spotlight with his wife of 22-years, Pauletta Pearson. He is the father of four, John David (born in 1984), Katie (born in 1987) and his twins, Olivia and Malcolm (born in 1991).
Childhood and Family:
The middle child of 3, Denzel Washington Jr. was born on December 28, 1954, in Mount Vernon, New York. His father is Denzel Washington, a Pentecostal preacher and his mother is Lynne Washington, a hairdresser. His parents’ occupations influenced young Denzel’s passion for the entertainment industry. From his father, he learned the power of performance, and listening to gossip in his mother’s beauty salon, Denzel developed a love for storytelling.
At age 14, however, he was forced to live away from his parents due to their divorce. Along with his older sister, Denzel was sent to a boarding school so they would not be exposed to their parents' failed marriage. After graduation, Denzel attended college and earned a B.A in Journalism (Fordham University, 1977). During his studies, Denzel became interested in acting and took part in many student productions. Wanting to perfect his acting, Denzel briefly attended the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, California, where he studied drama. He left the conservatory after one year in order to pursue an acting career. Later on, he studied acting under the guidance of Wynn Handman.
While in the production of his television movie debut, Wilma (1977), Denzel Washington met actress/musician Pauletta Pearson. They married on June 25, 1983. In 1984, the couple welcomed their first son, John David, and his wife gave birth to a baby daughter named, Katia, three years later. Their twins, Olivia and Malcolm, were born on April 10, 1991. Denzel currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and their four children.
"Acting is not life; those children are life. I don't want to be that person who says, 'Oh, God, I wasn't there. I was more thinking about me than them.' My career has been enhanced by family, stability, having birthday parties. If I didn't have a family, what would I be doing this weekend?" Denzel Washington
After being a camp counselor in Lakeville, Connecticut, where he first performed onstage during a talent show, Denzel Washington discovered that acting was his true calling. He then participated in a number of student plays while in college, making his theatrical debut in a Fordham University production of Eugene O'Neill's "The Emperor Jones." Upon graduation, Washington landed his first television role as Robert Eldridge in the CBS made-for-television movie Wilma (1977) and went briefly back to school to study drama. Growing bored with campus life, he left his studies to fully focus on his acting career. In 1979, Washington had his second experience on television when he played the role of Kirk in the television film Flesh & Blood (1979), and went on to hone in on his stage-talent by performing in a production of "Coriolanus" at the New York Shakespeare Festival.
He also joined New Federal Theater to play the role of Malcolm Shabazz (aka Malcolm X) in a production of "When the Chicken Comes Home to Roost" (1981), where he won an Audelco award. The same year, he netted an Obie for Distinguished Ensemble Performance when he worked with the Negro Ensemble Company to originate the role of PFC Melvin Peterson in Charles Fuller's Pulitzer-winning "A Soldier's Play" (1981). Washington appeared in a big screen film for the first time in 1981’s Carbon Copy.
His first break arrived in 1982 when he was cast as series regular Dr. Philip Chandler in the popular medical drama "St. Elsewhere." Washington’s acting won praise and rave reviews from critics, as well as made audiences sit up and take notice of him. He continued to impress the television audiences for the next six years. While working in the show, Washington also had other television projects like License to Kill (1984) and The George McKenna Story (1986).
During his summertime break, Washington kept busy with his work for film projects. In 1984, he received critical acclaim for reprising the role of Peterson in Norman Jewison's big screen adaptation of Fuller's play, A Soldier's Story (1984). He then portrayed Arnold Billing, a public relations executive, in Sidney Lumet’s Power (1986) and was cast as South African, anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko in Richard Attenborough's Cry Freedom (1987). In the latter film, he earned a nomination at the Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor. In 1987, Washington was also seen on stage when he debuted on Broadway in a production of Ron Milner's "Checkmates."
1988 marked Washington’s transition to leading man. He began with his starring role, opposite Dorian Healy and Sean Chapman, in the British film For Queen and Country (1988) and followed with his US debut as the lead in The Mighty Quinn (1989). However, his film career gained real momentum when director Edward Zwick cast him in the supporting role of runaway slave-turned-soldier Pvt. Trip in his Civil War drama Glory (1989). Delivering a brilliant performance, Washington took home an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.
After Heart Condition (1990), Washington teamed up with Spike Lee to play jazz musician Bleek Gilliam in Mo' Better Blues (1990). In the 1991 Mississippi Masala, he was perfectly cast as Demetrius Williams, a guy who falls for an Indian woman, a role that garnered him a NAACP Image award for Best Actor. In the following year, Washington received even more recognition when he rejoined director Spike Lee to play the title character in the biopic film Malcolm X (1992). His outstanding turn as the Black Nationalist leader nabbed several awards, including a Berlin Film Festival, a Boston Film Critics Association, a New York Film Critics Circle and a MTV Movie award in the category of Best Actor. He also earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
After his winning performance, Washington had a small role in Kenneth Branagh’s drama Much Ado About Nothing (1993), found himself acting with Julia Roberts in The Pelican Brief (1993) and won positive reviews for his portrayal of homophobic lawyer Joe Miller, opposite Tom Hank, in Jonathan Demme's critically acclaimed drama Philadelphia (1993). He won an NAACP Image for Best Motion-Picture Actor when he starred opposite Gene Hackman in the macho adventure-thriller Crimson Tide (1995). The actor also provided his voice for Humpty Dumpty in the animated series "Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child" (1995), in which he was garnered with a NAACP Image award for Best Performance in an Animated/Live-Action/Dramatic Youth or Children's Series/Special. Denzel then had a costarring role opposite Kelly Lynch in Virtuosity (1995), headlined Carl Franklin's The Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), won his next NAACP Image for Best Motion-Picture Actor in Edward Zwick’s Courage Under Fire (1996), shared the screen with pop-diva Whitney Houston in Penny Marshall's romantic film The Preacher's Wife (1996) and returned to TV to lend his voice for Humpty Dumpty/The Crooked Man in Mother Goose: A Rappin' and Rhymin' Special (1997), where he again picked up a NAACP Image for Best Performance in an Animated/Live-Action/Dramatic Youth or Children's Series/Special.
Washington played John Hobbes in Fallen (1998), had a hot sex scene with Milla Jovovich in Spike Lee's He Got Game (1998), portrayed Anthony 'Hub' Hubbard in Edward Zwick’s The Siege (1998) and was cast as paralyzed forensics Lincoln 'Linc' Rhyme in the suspenseful thriller The Bone Collector (1999, opposite Angelina Jolie).
Washington finished the decade by delivering a bravura performance of ex-middleweight boxer Ruben 'Hurricane' Carter in Norman Jewison's Hurricane (1999), for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama), a NAACP Image for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture, as well as an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
Playing the starring role of high school football coach Herman Boone in Boaz Yakin's Remember the Titans (2000), was Washington’s opening film in the new millennium. His biggest breakthrough arrived in 2001 when he was cast as corrupt, street-smart Detective Alonzo Boyd, opposite Ethan Hawke, in Antoine Fuqua's courageous drama Training Day. Delivering a spectacular villainous turn, Washington was highly praised with the prestigious Oscar for Best Actor, making him the first African-American actor to receive the honor in 40 years (last recipient was Sidney Poitier). He also won a Black Reel for Theatrical - Best Actor, a MTV Movie for Best Villain, as well as a Kansas City Film Critics Circle for Best Actor.
After having the title character in John Q (2002), Washington again attracted attention when he starred and directed the drama film Antwone Fisher (2002). Due to his great work, the actor nabbed an Image award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture and a PGA Golden Laurel. He was also honored with the 2003 Black Reel for Theatrical - Best Director.
Washington then played Chief Detective Matt Whitlock in the thriller Out of Time (2003), starred with Christopher Walken in director Tony Scott's thriller Man On Fire (2004) and rejoined Johnathan Demme for the hotly acclaimed remake of 1962's The Manchurian Candidate (2004). In 2004, he also made his return to theatre by playing Marcus Brutus in the Broadway revival of William Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar."
Washington will team up with director Spike Lee for the fourth time for the upcoming drama film Inside Man (2005, also starring Clive Owen and Jodie Foster). He is also set to play a role in Tony Scott’s adventure Deja Vu (2006).
- BET Award: Best Actor, 2004
- Black Reel: Theatrical - Best Director, Antwone Fisher, 2003
- PGA Golden Laurel: Stanley Kramer Award, Antwone Fisher, 2003
- Image Award: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, Antwone Fisher, 2003
- Oscar: Best Actor, Training Day, 2002
- Kansas City Film Critics Circle: Best Actor, Training Day, 2002
- MTV Movie: Best Villain, Training Day, 2002
- Black Reel: Theatrical - Best Actor, Training Day, 2002
- NAACP Image: Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture, The Hurricane, 2000
- Golden Globe: Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama), The Hurricane, 1999
- ShoWest: Actor of the Year, 1997
- NAACP Image: Best Motion-Picture Actor, Courage Under Fire, 1997
- NAACP Image: Entertainer of the Year, 1997
- NAACP Image: Best Performance in an Animated/Live-Action/Dramatic Youth or Children's Series/Special, Happily Ever After: Mother Goose, 1997
- NAACP Image: Best Performance in an Animated/Live-Action/Dramatic Youth or Children's Series/Special, Happily Ever After: Rumpelstiltskin, 1996
- NAACP Image: Best Motion-Picture Actor, Crimson Tide, 1996
- NAACP Image: Entertainer of the Year, 1996
- MTV Movie: Best Male Performance, Malcom X, 1993
- New York Film Critics Circle: Best Actor, Malcolm X, 1992
- Boston Film Critics Association: Best Actor, Malcolm X, 1992
- Berlin Film Festival: Silver Bear Award: Best Actor, Malcolm X, 1992
- NAACP Image: Best Actor, Mississippi Masala, 1992
- Golden Globe: Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, Glory, 1989
- Oscar: Best Supporting Actor, Glory, 1989
- Audelco: When the Chicken Comes Home to Roost, 1981
- Obie: Distinguished Ensemble Performance, A Soldier's Play, 1981