Award-winning actor Denzel Washington, born on December 28, 1954, is considered one of the most iconic actors of his generation. With two Academy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, a Tony Award, and two Silver Bear Awards, he has established himself as a force to be reckoned with. He is known for his stellar performances in movies, on television, and stage, and has been named by “The New York Times” as the greatest actor of the 21st century. Celebrate the special day of the legendary actor with some insights and trivia from his life and career.
Denzel Washington Jr. was born in Mount Vernon, New York on December 28, 1954. He is of African American descent. His mother was a beauty parlor owner while his father was an ordained minister. Washington is the middle of three children and has an older sister and a younger brother. He attended the Pennington-Grimes Elementary School in Mount Vernon and enrolled at the Mainland High School in Florida in 1970. Washington subsequently took a bachelor’s degree in drama and journalism at Fordham University. When he took a semester off, he worked as a creative arts director at a summer camp where a colleague suggested he should try acting. Inspired by the suggestion, Washington enrolled at the Lincoln Center campus of Fordham University where he began to perform in plays, often cast in the title roles.
Although Washington landed his first T.V. acting role right after college, his career breakthrough came in 1982 when he was cast in the television series “St. Elsewhere.” In 1983, he married Pauletta Pearson, whom he met while filming “Wilma.” He won his first Oscar Award in 1989 for Best Supporting Actor for portraying a soldier in the film “Glory.” The 1990s proved to be the best decade in his career as he starred in critically acclaimed movies such as “Philadelphia,” “The Hurricane,” and “Remember the Titans.” During this period, Washington also ventured into thriller films like “The Pelican Brief” and established his own production company.
In 2001, Washington won the Academy Award for Best Actor for “Training Day,” becoming the first African-American actor since Sidney Poitier to win the award. The following year, he directed “Antwoine Fisher,” his first feature film in which he also co-starred. Over the next few years, he starred in more thriller movies before returning to the stage with the Broadway revival of “Fences” in 2010 and winning a Tony Award for his performance. Fast forward to 2021, he starred in the movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” which again earned him widespread acclaim and several nominations — including an Oscar nomination for Best Actor — breaking his record as the most-nominated Black actor in the history of the Academy Awards. With an unmatched legacy, he continues to be an icon and inspiration for millions of fans around the world.
Fresh from graduating college, Denzel Washington is cast in his first T.V. screen role in “Wilma.”
Washington wins his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for the film “Glory.”
He becomes the first African-American actor since Sidney Poitier to receive the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Washington directs “Antwoine Fisher,” a feature film in which he also co-stars.
For his performance in the Broadway revival of August Wilson’s “Fences,” he wins his first Tony Award.
Nominated for “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” Washington breaks his record as the most-nominated Black actor in the history of the Academy Awards.
Why We Love Denzel Washington
He is a legend
It needs no telling that Denzel Washington is one of the most iconic actors of his time. The many awards he received over the years and his powerful screen presence only add to his legendary status as an actor.
He has redefined stardom
With a career that spans nearly five decades, Washington has consistently won critical acclaim with nearly all of his performances. He remains a towering figure in Hollywood until now, owning the screen with his stardom.
He gives back to the community
Washington’s philanthropic work is remarkable. From helping build homes for military families to making educational endowments for the promotion of theater studies and more, he has been generous in giving back to the community.
5 Surprising Facts
His dream was to become a doctor
When he joined Fordham University, Denzel Washington intended to become a doctor.
His right little finger is crooked
He injured the little finger on his right hand while playing basketball as a child, and it remains crooked to this day.
He paid Chadwick Boseman’s tuition
Washington unwittingly helped further Boseman’s career by paying for the latter’s tuition at Howard University.
He did odd jobs
As a child, his mother had him find a job at a barbershop in an attempt to discipline him.
He regrets turning down “Se7en”
Washington turned down the main role in the movie, later played by Brad Pitt, and called it his biggest regret.
Denzel Washington FAQs
Did Denzel Washington enter the military?
No, the award-winning actor has never served in the armed forces.
What is his religion?
He is a devout Christian and reads the “Bible” daily.
What is the meaning of his name?
The name ‘Denzel’ is of English origin which means ‘from the high stronghold.’
Denzel Washington’s birthday dates