For most actors, being bequeathed with the title of ‘Black Meryl Streep’ is quite an honour. Or winning two Oscars may be the highlight of their career. But for Denzel Washington, that is not it. For him, it is the list of people who have broken bread with him over dinner.
The actor-director who brought the Tony-award winning play, ‘Fences’, to the silver screen (which he directed and starred in opposite Viola Davis), is equally proud of his dinner guests as he is of his acting prowess.
One would think that having talk-show legend Oprah Winfrey gracing dinner would be the epitome of achievement. But that is not so for Washington.
Washington hosted Nelson Mandela before the latter’s untimely demise. “I had met him earlier and when he came to California, he chose to come over to my place. I then invited other people to my place for the same dinner. Oprah was there too.”
But that is not all.
Washington also shared an anecdote about music and dance legend Michael Jackson, who had come over for dinner. “My wife served him fried chicken. And boy, could that man eat. It doesn’t look like it, but he sure could eat.”
But if you thought that the list could not bigger, you have to hold your horses. Washington admitted that he has also broken bread with the honourable Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
And if you wondering who he is, well Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of the most recognisable faces after Nelson Mandela who led the anti-Apartheid movement and is a notable human-rights activist who made the headlines almost daily in the 90s.
From actor to director
Denzel is one of the few actors who has made a successful transition from being in-front of the camera to being behind it, i.e. becoming a director.
Washington’s directorial debut was Antwone Fisher, a biographical film, was released in 2002. His second movie as a director was 2007’s The Great Debaters and the third, that was released in 2016, was Fences. Fences was nominated for Academy Award for Best Motion Picture but it lost out to Moonlight.
Washington created history when he was awarded the best actor Oscar in 2002, for his performance in cop drama ‘Training Day’, where he played a corrupt cop. This was historic because he became only the second African-American actor to win an award in this category after Sidney Poitier won the award 38 years ago for his performance in ‘Lilies Of The Field’ in 1964.
Washington also became the second African-American to win the Cecille B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes in 2016. And guess who the first African-American who won this award was? Yep, none other than Sidney Poitier.
Poitier and Washington are credited as being cornerstone performers because of whom Hollywood has finally embraced diversity and many talented young people have been able to enter the industry and leave their marks in the hearts of people.