Denzel Washington: Master of Impersonations
Have you ever taken time to think about how being in certain places at certain times have changed your life? Or how a choice you make can take your life in a totally new direction? Well actor Denzel Washington knows about these things all too well.
As a teenage Denzel began to get into trouble on the streets of Mount Vernon, NY, it was his mentors at the Boys and Girls Club of America that steered his life onto the successful path it is on today.
“I am a prime example of the need for a community-based safe haven like Boys & Girls Clubs,” he said in a press release for the club. “Without the support and mentoring of the Club, I’m afraid to think where I would be today. The Club staff motivated us to dream big and take our education seriously. I certainly would not have the life I do now.”
With the proper motivation and thirst for education in tow, Washington, who is now both a spokesperson and board member of the Boys and Girls Club of America, went on to attend Fordham University in Manhattan. While earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, he also earned a taste of what would make him one of the most talented actors in Hollywood.
In an interview with Oprah, Washington explained when he knew he wanted to act: “When I was doing Othello in college. Everyone was coming out of the woodwork to see the show. I was so green, I would look right out at the audience just to see who was there! But I was like, ‘Wow—all these people showed up. Maybe I’m good at this.’ So I had a drive to perfect the craft.”
From that moment on, his career has been filled with nothing but success. Since his big break in 1982 starring in the drama, St. Elsewhere, Washington has had the honor of starring in dozens of films playing historical characters such as African-American activist Malcolm X, crime boss Frank Lucas and African-American educator Melvin B. Tolson. In 1996, he was also the first black man to be named People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive.
In 1989, Washington won an Oscar for his role in the film “Glory” and he received his second Oscar in 2001 for his role in “Training Day.” He received Golden Globe Awards for his roles in “Glory” and “The Hurricane.” He also has one Tony award under his belt for his role in the Broadway play “Fences.”
With so many films and accolades on his resume’ for acting, Washington decided to give directing a go and directed the well-received drama “Antwone Fisher.” In his interview with Oprah, he discovered: “It’s my passion. More than anything, I enjoy seeing talented people do what they do well. When you’re an actor, you come out of your trailer, do your thing, and then go back in. Directing is about collaboration—the production, the costuming, the script, the actors. I love it. It brings me joy. At 52 years old, I’m blessed to be able to segue into directing. I want to be Clint Eastwood when I grow up!”
Since then Washington directed “The Great Debaters” and hopes to direct more films. “The other day, I was doing the math,” he told Oprah. “I’m 52, and if I direct a picture every five years or so, I could work on six more, if I’m lucky.” With so many successful twists and turns his life has taken, it is interesting to think of where Denzel Washington would be had he not had the chance to receive the proper kind of motivation as a child. Today, even with all of the accomplishments he had made, the Oscar, Tony and Golden Globe winning actor and director refuses to let fame rule his life.
“Titles have nothing to do with me,” he told Oprah. “That’s not who I am. First, I’m a human being. I love my work, but acting is what I do; it’s not my identity. I love the way Julia Roberts put it: “I’m just an ordinary person who has an extraordinary job.”