Denzel Washington: An Example of Achievment
By Len "Muddy" Mardeusz
In the movie industry he is considered an icon. But that is not the direction his early life was
taking him. He was born in January, 1954 in Mt. Vernon New York. At the age of 14 his parents divorced. He began to rebel. His mother Lynne sent him to predatory Military School in New Windsor New York. “That decision changed my life. I would not have survived the direction I was going.
The guys I was hanging out with at the time, my running buddies, have done maybe 40 years combined in the
penitentiary. Later, Denzel Washington attended a public high school in Dayton, Florida.
Denzel attended Forham University, where he played basketball as a guard. after a period of indecision on which major to take he took a semester off and worked as a creative arts director at summer Camp Sloan in Lakeville, Connecticut. While there he participated in talent shows and a colleague suggested he try acting. Denzel Washington returned to Fordham with a renewed purpose. He enrolled at the Lincoln Center campus to study acting. Denzel earned a B.A. in drama and journalism. He spent one year at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, then returned to New York to begin a professional acting career,
In 1977 Denzel made his screen acting debut in a made-for-television film, “Wilma”. He decided to make the move to Los Angeles, California. His first Hollywood. Appearance was in “Carbon Copy”. It was while filming “Wilma”, that he met his future wife Paulette Pearson. The were married January 25, 1982. Another major happening came when Denzel was hired to play in aT.V. hospital series, “St. Elsewhere”. The series ran for six years, from ‘82 to 1988. Denzel Washington was one of the few African-American actors to appear on a major network series. Film producers
came-a-calling, in 1984 he starred in “A Soldier’s Story”. In 1986 he two film features, starring in “Hard Lessons” and “Power”.
Those were parts that helped support a growing family, but Denzel still desired rolls that had meaning in 1987 he appeared as Steve Biko in director’s Richard Attenborough’s , “Cry Freedom”, for which he was nominated as Best Supporting Actor. Attenborough said of Denzel,”His ability as an actor in my mind has no limits”. 1989, Denzel did win an Academy Award for his portrayal as a defiant slave in “Glory”. In the 1990’s, film offers came by the dozens.Denzel Washington was now an established box office attraction. He made 4 movies with director Spike Lee including his critically acclaimed performance in, “Malcom X”, for which he was nominated by the Academy for Best Actor.
Denzel Washington’s and his wife Paulette have four children, now grown adults, John David, Katia Malcom and Olivia. They all have studied acting as their careers.Their father, Denzel has set a high standard for them. Here is just a short list of his box office hits: “Philadelphia”; “The Pelican Brief”; “Crimson Tide”; “Courage Under Fire”; “He Got Game”. In 2000, Denzel Washington appeared in the Disney film, “Remember The Titans”, which grossed over $100 million dollars in the U.S. Denzel has also directed some of his own movies, “The Great Debators” and “Fences”. He directed the movie in 2016 co-staring Viola Davis. He was nominated as Best Actor for a GoldenGlobe award.
Denzel Washington is a devout Christian and has considered becoming a preacher. He says,”Maybe a part of me still tells me I am suppose to preach. I take what talent I have been given seriously and want to use it for good”. Denzel donated 2.5 million dollars to help. build the new West Los Angeles, Church of God. He has donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. He also donated 2 million dollars to Fordham University to establish a Theater-specific department. Denzel Washington, an African-American icon, family man and father who ends his day reading the Bible.
In my mind he would make one terrific preacher.
Entertainment Roving Reporter-At-Large