American actor Denzel Hayes Washington Jr. was born on December 28th, 1954, in Mount Vernon, New York. After graduating in 1977 from Fordham University (in NYC) with a degree in Drama and Journalism, Denzel attended the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, California, before going back to New York to pursue a career in acting. His television credits go back to 1977, in the film titled The Wilma Rudolph Story, in which he had a minor role. In 1979, Washington made his stage debut in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, followed by roles in When the Chickens Came Home to Roost (playing famous activist Malcolm X) and A Soldier’s Play, between 1981 and 1983. Denzel’s first film appearance was in 1981’s Carbon Copy, a comedy-drama in which he was one of the leads.
Washington’s big acting break happened when he was cast in the medical drama St. Elsewhere, appearing in all six seasons, from 1982 till 1988. While starring on the show, Denzel continued to do movies, such as A Soldier’s Story (1984), Power (1986), and For Queen and Country (1988). In 1987, he earned his first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor thanks to his performance in the apartheid drama film Cry Freedom. He finally won the award for the historical drama Glory in 1989. Throughout the 1990s, Washington had a series of leading roles in Malcolm X (1992), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), The Pelican Brief (1993), Philadelphia (1993), Crimson Tide (1995), He Got Game (1998), The Hurricane (1999), and The Bone Collector (1999). Denzel earned another Oscar nomination for the 1992 film, and took home a Golden Globe Award for his work on The Hurricane.
One of Washington’s first film roles in the 2000s was in the crime thriller Training Day, which finally won him the coveted Academy Award for Best Actor. His win was followed by a series of commercially successful films, most notably John Q. (2002), Out of Time (2003), Man on Fire (2004), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), Déjà Vu (2006), and American Gangster (2007). In 2002, Denzel made his directorial debut with biopic Antwone Fisher, and later directed 2007’s The Great Debaters, starring in both movies as well. In 2010, Washington starred in the Broadway revival play Fences, for which he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. Subsequent film roles include post-apocalyptic The Book of Eli and action thriller Unstoppable (both in 2010), drama Flight (2012), action movies The Equalizer (2014), and The Magnificent Seven (2016). Denzel also directed a 2016 episode of TV medical drama Grey’s Anatomy.
In 2014, Washington returned to theater to star in Broadway’s A Raisin in the Sun. His film roles became more sporadic during this decade, and his last films were Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017), and The Equalizer 2 (2018). He then appeared in the Broadway play The Iceman Cometh in 2018. Amongst Denzel’s most recent films are The Little Things, The Tragedy of Macbeth and A Journal for Jordan (all premiering in 2021). He will next appear in The Equalizer 3, set to be released in 2023.