Denzel Jermaine Washington, Jr. was born on December 28th, 1954 in Mount Vernon, New York.
As a young boy, Denzel was essentially ‘raised’ by the Boys and Girls Club, in which Denzel is a national spokesman today.
In his book, A Hand Guide to Me, Washington speaks of the impact the club had on his life. “I spent a lot of time there as a kid; first out of necessity, and then because there was no place else I’d rather be. I was there most days after school and most weekends until I went away to high school. It was where I learned how to play ball, where I learned how to focus and set my mind on a goal, where I learned about consequences, where I learned how to be a man.”
And a great man Denzel became. His acting career began after attending Fordham University in pursuit of a degree in journalism. Soon into his studies he found himself wanting to instead pursue acting. And through a scholarship to the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, he launched his illustrious career.
Washington made his first feature film appearance in the comedy A Carbon Copy (1981). Soon thereafter he landed a starring role in the hit television series St. Elsewhere (1982-1988). It was during this season in Washington’s life that he earned his first real recognition as an actor when he had five Oscar nominations for Cry Freedom (1987), playing Steve Biko, the true story of a South African apartheid martyr.
It wasn’t until 1989 though, after starring in the film Glory, that Denzel was awarded an Oscar for best supporting actor.
Countless blockbusters followed for Washington. He starred in Mo’ Better Blues, Malcolm X, in which he was nominated for another Oscar, Philadelphia, Crimson Tide, Courage Under Fire and The Hurricane.
However, it wasn’t until 2001 in Training Day, possibly Denzel’s greatest performance, that he would win his second Oscar and this time for the leading role.
Over the last decade, Denzel has showed little interest in slowing down. His roles in Man on Fire, The Manchurian Candidate and American Gangster continue to draw in huge audiences world-wide.
View his full filmography here.