Denzel Hayes Washington Jr. is a renowned Hollywood actor and producer, known for his powerfully portrayed performances in film and television. Washington was born on December 28, 1954 near New York City. His father, Reverend Denzel Hayes Washington Sr. was a minister, and his mother Lennis owned a beauty parlor. At the age of 6, he joined the local Boys & Girls Club of America in Mount Vernon, New York where he first performed on stage. It was this club that kept him occupied and out of trouble. His parents divorced when he was 14 years old, and Washington and his sister were sent to boarding school in New Windsor, New York. He attended Fordham University where he played basketball and studied drama and journalism. He dropped out of college for a semester to figure out his career choices, and after working as a creative arts director at a summer camp in Connecticut, decided that he wanted to pursue acting.
After graduating, Washington enrolled at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and landed his first role in the TV movie “Wilma” where he also met his future wife Pauletta Pearson. He then starred in the comedy film “Carbon Copy” and received recognition for his role in the play “A Soldier’s Play”. His first major leading role was as Dr. Phillip Chandler in the TV drama “St. Elsewhere” which aired on NBC for 6 years. His other TV, film and stage roles during this time include “A Soldier’s Story”, “Hard Lessons”, “Power” and “For Queen and Country”. Washington earned his first Oscar nomination for the film “Cry Freedom” in 1987, and just two years later, he received the Oscar Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film “Glory”.
During the 1990s, Denzel Washington did several blockbuster films, of which the most critically acclaimed was “Malcolm X” in which he teamed up with director Spike Lee. Washington’s portrayal of Malcolm X was moving and believable and earned him another Oscar nomination. In a decision that surprised many critics and fans, Washington did not win the award. This performance, however, will definitely be remembered as one of his best. His other major projects in the 90s include “Courage Under Fire” in which he starred with Meg Ryan, “Philadelphia” in which he starred with Tom Hanks, “The Pelican Brief” with Julia Roberts, “The Preacher’s Wife” with Whitney Houston, and “The Hurricane” in which he played the role of the boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter. He won a Golden Globe Award for it, which made him the first black actor to have won a Best Actor Golden Globe since Sidney Poitier 36 years before.
The very next year he won his second Oscar, this time for the leading role category, for the film Training Day. He starred in several more hit movies such as “Inside Man”, “American Gangster”, “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” and “Safe House”. He also starred in Broadway plays such as “Julius Caesar” and “Fences”, the latter winning him a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. In the field of direction, Denzel Washington has done a drama titled “Antwone Fisher” and a film titled “The Great Debaters”. His latest Oscar nomination was for the 2012 movie Flight. In total Washington has 4 nominations and 2 wins at the Oscars. The actor is now lives with his wife Paulette and 4 children in Beverly Hills, California. His upcoming projects include an action thriller directed by Antoine Fuqua called “The Equalizer”.