10 things that you may not know about Denzel Washington
1. Washington is named after his father, who was named after the doctor who delivered him, Dr. Denzel. The actor often points out how, although both first names are spelled the same, his father’s name is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable (Den-zel), whereas the actor’s name is pronounced with the stress on the last (Den-zel).
2. Washington attended Fordham University where he first studied biology, in the hopes of becoming a doctor, and then switched to political science. Feeling indecisive, Washington dropped out of college for a semester and worked as a creative arts director at a YMCA summer camp. After Washington took part in a staff talent show at the camp, he was told he should consider acting. He then returned to Fordham and finished school, graduating with a B.A. in Drama and Journalism.
3. Tom Hanks said working with Washington on Philadelphia (1993) was like « going to film school ». Hanks said he learned more about acting by watching Denzel than from anyone else.
4. The actor put his journalism degree to use when he spent months on the beat with Washington Post reporters to prepare for his role in 1993’s « The Pelican Brief. »
5. In a 1996 Newsweek cover story about the biology behind the perception of beauty, Washington was cited as a key example in a scientific explanation about why some humans are very good looking.
6. Son, Malcolm, was named in honor of Malcolm X.
7. In 2006, he donated $1 million to Save Africa’s Children.
8. Received an honorary degree (Doctor of Humane Letters) from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia on May 20, 2007.
9. Supports charities such as the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, and the Gathering Place (an AIDS hospice).
10. He is the second black actor (after Sidney Poitier) to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role (for Training Day (2001). Poitier received the honorary Academy Award that same year.