"Even if I'm playing a bad guy, I work hard to make him multi-leveled and interesting." Isaiah Washington.
A highly respected African-American actor who has made his name in gritty crime dramas and romantic ensemble comedies alike, Isaiah Washington wins TV viewers’ heart while portraying the hunky and sensitive Dr. Preston Blake on ABC’s sudsy hit medical drama "Grey's Anatomy" (2005 - Present). On the big screen, he became known for his appearances in a number of Spike Lee’s films, including Crooklyn (1994), Clockers (1995) and Girl 6 (1996). He later received an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Actor, thanks to the portrayal of a rising African-American TV executive in the acclaimed drama Dancing in September (2000).
In October 2006, the 6' 1" tall actor and a father of three, reportedly was involved in an argument with "Grey's Anatomy" costar Patrick Dempsey that briefly became physical, although no real punches were thrown. However, the two actors have eventually resolved the problem.
"I'm no longer going to play thugs or debauched cops that I can't possibly make complex characters. I'm bigger than that. I owe too much to too many good people at the Goodman, Arena and Playwrights Horizons."
Childhood and Family:
"I traveled 10 days and got to know my Mende relatives, who made me a tribal chief. So I went to the United Nations and made them aware of what's going on in Sierra Leone. Now that I know I share ancestry with the people, there's a real connection. I'm not just some celebrity showing off. I have a home there and access to 600 acres, where I would like to build a hotel." Isaiah Washington.
An Angolan from his father’s side and a Sierra Leonean from his mother's side, Isaiah Washington, nicknamed Mickey or Ike, was born on August 3, 1963 in Houston, Texas. He Graduated from Willowridge High School, Houston, Texas, in 1981 and spent four years in the Air Force before studying drama at Washington, DC's Howard University.
On February 14, 1999, he married Jenisa Marie Washington and has three children together.
"I've always been interested in Africa and I wanted to give meaning to the term African American." Isaiah Washington.
Dancing in September
"You don't have the time to "make the time" to do anything. You have to do it now!" Isaiah Washington.
Originally dreaming of becoming a professional football player, Isaiah Washington began interested in acting and studied Theater Arts at the Howard University. After graduation, he won a role in playwright Ntozake Shange's “Spell 7” and then moved to New York for further acting career. He appeared in a number of stage productions and became an original member of the City Kids Repertory, a theatre group that visits high schools and community centers throughout New York.
After numerous stage works, he landed on television, on CBS’ long-running daytime soap "As The World Turns." In 1991, he made his feature debut in Kevin Hooks' comedy-flick Strictly Business (starring Tommy Davidson, Joseph C. Phillips, and Halle Berry) and got a more noticeable role in Spike Lee's semi-biographical film Crooklyn (1994). He was subsequently cast in more Spike Lee films, including the 1995 mob drama Clockers (starring Harvey Keitel and John Turturro; based on the novel of the same name by Richard Price), the 1996 drama comedy about the life of an aspiring actress in New York, Girl 6 (starring Theresa Randle), and the 1996 historical drama about a group of African-American men who board a bus headed for the historic Million Man March, Get on the Bus (Washington portrayed a proud gay man named Kyle).
Washington spent the rest of the 1990s playing roles in films like writer-director Theodore Witcher's warmly received ensemble romantic comedy Love Jones (1997; starring Larenz Tate and Nia Long) and in Steven Soderbergh's acclaimed adaptation of the novel by Elmore Leonard, Out of Sight (1998; with George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez), in which Washington gave a impressive turn as a violent con. He also appeared in writer-director-actor Warren Beatty's political comedy Bulworth (1998; also with Halle Berry and Paul Sorvino), and played a falsely accused murderer who faces execution on death row in director-actor Clint Eastwood's crime thriller drama inspired by Andrew Klavan's novel, True Crime (1999).
Entering the new millennium, Washington starred opposite to Chinese action star Jet Li and the beautiful late actress Aaliyah in Andrzej Bartkowiak's urban update of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo Must Die, and writer-director Reggie Rock Bythewood's acclaimed drama Dancing in September (opposite Nicole Ari Parker), playing a rising African-American TV executive, a role which earned him an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Actor. Afterward, he teamed with William H. Macy and Sam Rockwell to play one of the motley crew hoping to pull off a major score for the Russo Brothers' crime comedy remake of the 1958 italian movie “I soliti ignoti” by Mario Monicelli, Welcome To Collinwood (2002) and appeared as the first mate of a salvage team that discovers a mysterious ocean liner in director Steve Beck's spooky thriller Ghost Ship (2002; with Gabriel Byrne and Julianna Margulies), based on a real life Italian cruise ship SS Andrea Doria which sank in 1956 after colliding with another liner near Nantucket, Massachusetts.
After joining Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett in Ron Shelton's action comedy Hollywood Homicide (2003) Washington’s career took a brief sidetrack with turns in a string of less-than-savory projects, including the inside-porn drama starring Juliette Marquis, This Girl's Life (2003), and the awful sequels Wild Things 2 (released straight-to-video in 2004; Washington played an insurance investigator opposite Susan Ward and Leila Arcieri) and Troi 3: The Escort (2004; starring Brian J. White; Washington played mobster Benny Grier).
Washington soon revitalized his career in 2005 when he was cast as the sexy and intense cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Preston Xavier Burke, who becomes entangled in a secret affair with his neurotic colleague (played by Asian-Canadian actress Sandra Oh) on ABC’s award-winning medical drama "Grey's Anatomy." His performance later won him an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series in 2006. "Grey's Anatomy" is currently in its third season and it performed strongly in its season premiere, snatching away the #1 position from the hit crime drama “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
"I haven't been interested in any other roles other than Dr. Burke. I've been in close to 40 films, so I don't have that kick in my stomach to want to make movies. I'm very interested in being a producer and being my own boss. I've been given a platform and have walked through doors I wouldn't have been able to without this show. I met with the President and State Department heads to talk about something (Sierra Leone) I feel very passionate about." Isaiah Washington.
- NAACP Image Awards: Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series, "Grey's Anatomy," 2006