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  • Faith: Christian
  • Career: Actor
  • Birthday:  December 28, 1954

Denzel Washington is a producer, actor, and director. In a career spanning over 40 years, he’s received several accolades, including a Tony Award, two Academy Awards, three Golden Globes, and two Silver Bears. He was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement in 2016, the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2019, and The New York Times named him the greatest actor of the 21st century in 2020. In 2022, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

After training at the American Conservatory Theater, Washington started his career in theatre, acting in performances off-Broadway. He first came to prominence in the NBC series “St. Elsewhere” and in the war movie “A Soldier’s Story.” He won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor for his role as an American Civil War soldier in “Glory” and Best Actor for playing a corrupt cop in “Training Day.” His other Oscar-nominated roles were in “Malcolm X,” “Cry Freedom,” “Hurricane,” “Flight,” “Fences,” “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” and “The Tragedy of Macbeth.”

He established himself as a leading man with starring roles in “Mississippi Masala,” “Mo’ Better Blues,” “Philadelphia,” “Courage Under Fire,” “Remember the Titans,” “Man on Fire,” “Inside Man,” and “American Gangster.” He starred in the “Equalizer” trilogy and directed and starred in “Antwone Fisher,” “The Great Debaters,” and “Fences.” Washington made his Broadway debut in “Checkmates” and won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play in the Broadway revival of August Wilson’s play “Fences” in 2010. He has since returned to Broadway in the revivals of Lorraine Hansberry’s play “A Raisin in the Sun” and the Eugene O’Neill play “The Iceman Cometh.”

Washington was born in Mount Vernon, New York, in 1954. His mother was a beauty parlor owner and operator, while his father, Denzel Hayes Washington Sr., was an ordained Pentecostal minister who was also an employee of the New York City Water Department and worked at a local S. Klein department store. When Washington was 14, his parents divorced, and his mother sent him to the private preparatory school Oakland Military Academy in New Windsor, New York. He later said, “That decision changed my life 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 prison. They were nice guys, but the streets got them.”

After Oakland, he attended Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, Florida, from 1970 to 1971. He was interested in attending Texas Tech University, but instead, he earned a BA in Drama and Journalism from Fordham University in 1977. After a period of indecision on which major to study and taking a semester off, Washington worked as a creative arts director of the overnight summer camp at Camp Sloane YMCA in Lakeville, Connecticut. He participated in a staff show for the campers, and a colleague suggested that he try acting.

What religion is Denzel Washington?

Denzel Washington is a Pentecostal Evangelical Christian and a member of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles. At one point in his life, he considered becoming a preacher. In 1999, he said, “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.” In 1995, he donated $2.5 million to help build the new West Angeles Church of God in Christ facility in Los Angeles. He also says that he reads his Bible daily.

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