Actor Denzel Hayes Washington was born on December 28, 1954, in Mount Vernon, New York. Washington is considered to be one of the most engaging leading men of our time. He is the son of a Pentecostal minister and a beauty shop owner and has two siblings. Washington first too the stage around the age of 7 or 8, appearing in a talent show at his local Boys & Girls Club. The club provided him with a safe place to be and to help keep him out of trouble. When he was 14, his parents’ marriage broke down and he and his older sister were sent away to boarding school.
Washington went to Fordham University, but he proved to be a poor student initially. After taking some time away from college, he returned to the university with a new interest in acting. Washington later won a scholarship to the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, and afterwards worked with the Shakespeare in the Park ensemble.
Washington made his feature film debut in the comedy A Carbon Copy (1981). He also appeared in a number of off-Broadway productions and in television movies before being cast in a starring role in the hit television medical drama St Elsewhere (1982–88).
Washington grabbed his first of five Oscar nominations for Cry Freedom (1987) as real-life South African apartheid martyr Steve Biko. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Glory (1989).
Washington proved time and again he could disappear into a role and mesmerize audiences.
He appeared in several notable films throughout the 1990s, including his first of four Spike Lee collaborations Mo’ Better Blues (1990), Malcolm X (1992) in another Oscar-nominated performance, Philadelphia (1993), Crimson Tide (1995), Courage Under Fire (1996) and The Hurricane (1999), for which he received a Golden Globe for Best Actor and another Oscar nomination.
In 2001, he received his second Oscar (this time in a leading role) for the cop thriller Training Day. The following year, he directed his first film, the drama Antwone Fisher, in which he also co-starred.
Several blockbusters followed, including Man on Fire (2004), The Manchurian Candidate (2004) and Spike Lee’s Inside Man (2006). He also starred as Frank Lucas, a real-life heroin kingpin from Harlem, in the 2007 film American Gangster, opposite Russell Crowe. In 2009, Washington starred as MTA Dispatcher Walter Garber in the remake of the classic film The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 co-starring with John Travolta.
In recent years, Washington has continued to explore a range of roles. He starred in the 2010 futuristic tale The Book of Eli. That same year, Washington won a Tony Award for his work in Fences, a revival of the August Wilson classic drama. He landed a $20 million payday for the 2012 action thriller Safe House, in which he played a CIA agent gone rogue. Washington next appeared in the low-budget drama Flight (2012), earning for his performance as a pilot with substance abuse problems. He then teamed up with Mark Wahlberg for the upcoming crime drama 2 Guns.