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Denzel Washington Biography
Denzel Washington Jr. was born in Mount Vernon, a small place near New York. His father, Denzel Washington Sr. was a Reverend and his mother, Lennis, owned a beauty parlor. Things seemed to going fine for the Washington family but all of it changed suddenly. His parents’ marriage broke down and Denzel was sent to military school when he was 14 years old. Though it might seem sad at the time, today Denzel is thankful to have been sent there. He realizes, he would not have been the man he is today if he would have continued to hang-out with the same people he use to.
Education was his top-most priority, and he immersed himself into it. He attended the Mainland High School in Florida and got his degree in Drama and Journalism from Fordham University. Denzel also played some Basketball and was part of the college team. But being good at so many things confused him and he wasn’t sure what he wanted to become. He took a break and worked as a counselor at a Summer Camp. The camp had a staff talent show where Denzel did an acting bit. He was very good and a colleague suggested he try it. After returning, he enrolled into the Lincoln Centre to study acting, and now knew that this is what he wanted to do for a living.
The decision proved to be a right one as Denzel immediately found work after the acting course. He made his TV debut in a made-for-TV movie Wilma. He soon made his big screen debut in Carbon Copy (1981). Denzel got his first major break; he landed the role of Dr. Phillip Chandler in St. Elsewhere on NBC. The show was on air for six years and he remained with the show till the very end. Despite being regularly on TV, Denzel got ample opportunities in films and made great use of it. He worked with Sir Richard Attenborough in Cry Freedom (1987), and took home the academy award for his role in Glory. But this was just the beginning for him.
In 1990, Denzel worked with Spike Lee in Mo’ Better Blues (1990), the movie did well, and two formed a great team. They united again to make Malcolm X (1992) for which Denzel received an Oscar nomination. The film was a major hit and Denzel was catapulted into the big leagues. He was making a name for himself by playing real life characters. He had the ability to get lost in the character play it to the exact. This quality served him well as he got to play more such characters in the future. Not wanting to limit himself just to drama, Denzel made a deliberate attempt to work in action thriller movies. And he did that with great success too. Thrillers like Crimson Tide (1995) and The Preacher’s Wife, did well at the box-office, and only added to his burgeoning resume.
One thing Denzel proved to the world was that you need not have to do graphic sex scenes to be considered a good actor. The title role in Basic Instinct was offered to him, but he declined because of the sex scenes. He even refused to kiss a few co-stars in movies where he felt the scene was unnecessary. In The Hurricane, Denzel played his most controversial role till date. He played the boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter, who was convicted of triple-murder, but his sentence was overturned after he spent 20 years in jail. Many felt he deserved an Oscar for the role, but thanks to some vigilante journalism his Oscar bid was thwarted and he had to settle for a Golden Globe.
But the Best Actor Oscar was not to stay away from him for too long. He won the prestigious award for his portrayal for a rogue L.A.P.D. cop in Training Day, it was his second Oscar, but was the first one given to him for his leading role. Denzel became the second actor of African–American descent to win the award for Best Actor after Sidney Poitier. Now with Best Actor Oscar in his kitty, he was ready to direct his first film. He directed Antwone Fisher (2002); a film based on the autobiography called Finding Fish by Antwone Fisher. The film was well received by critics and the audience liked it too.
Denzel has limited the number of movies he does, but that hasn’t stopped them from being hits. Movies like Man on Fire, Déjà vu (2006) and American Gangster (2007) have all been hits. He directed his second movie The Great Debaters (2007) with Forest Whitaker, and was last seen in The Book of Eli with Gary Oldman.