8 Things You Didn’t Know About Denzel WashingtonPublished on December 22, 2016. Updated December 19, 2017
Denzel Washington is an icon in Hollywood who has been defined as one of the greatest actors of all time by many. On top of being one of the industry’s elite stars, he is down-to-earth, charming, hilarious and a philanthropist, but those are all things fans already know about the star. After nearly four decades in the spotlight, there are many things already known about the actor, but there is always more to find out! Here are 8 things not widely known about Denzel Washington:
8. The Prophecy
Now, after numerous roles and becoming one of the most respected and sought-after actors in the industry, it is hard to think of Washington as anything other than a star, and apparently, someone knew that way before it happened. As it turns out, when he was still young, Washington was at his mother’s beauty parlor when a woman, who was there getting her hair done and was known in the community as a prophetess, saw him and instantly wrote a prophecy about him. She wrote that Washington would grow up and became someone who spoke to millions. The actor kept the piece of paper with the prophecy on it in his wallet for years.
7. Early Life
Denzel Hayes Washington Jr. was born on December 28, 1954, in Mount Vernon, New York. He was born to Denzel Hayes Washington Sr., an ordained Pentecostal minister who also worked for the Water Department, and Lennis “Lynne,” who was a beauty parlor owner. Washington was named after his father Denzel, who as actually named after Doctor Denzel, the man who delivered him at his birth. The actor also says there is a difference between his first name and his father’s even though they are spelled the same, saying his dad’s name is pronounced with a stress on the first syllable “DEN-zel,” while his name is pronounced “den-ZEL.”
6. Military School
Washington began going to school at Pennington-Grimes Elementary School until 1968, but when his parents divorced when he was 14 his mother sent him to a private school. Washington was sent to Oakland Military Academy in New Windsor, New York, and revealed if his mother had not have done that he probably would have ended up living his life in a gang. “That decision changed my life, because I wouldn’t have survived in the direction I was going. The guys I was hanging out with at the time, my running buddies, have now done maybe 40 years combined in the penitentiary. They were nice guys, but the streets got them.”
5. Becoming an Actor
Thanks to his mom sending him to military school, Washington focused more on school and ended up finishing high school at Mainland High School in Dayton Beach, Florida. After which he went to Fordham University, which he graduated from in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts in Drama and Journalism. He eventually decided to pursue acting after he dropped out of school for one semester and worked as a creative arts director at a summer camp where someone he worked with suggested he go into acting after the staff put on a talent show. Like many actors, Washington got his start in theater, and it did not take long for his talent to get noticed and he was quickly offered on-screen roles.
4. On-Set Fight
Denzel Washington has never been the type of person or actor to not speak his mind, and he did not hold back when working with director Quentin Tarantino on the set of Crimson Tide in the early ’90s. The two men got into a fight on set when Washington, who starred in the film, confronted the director after Tarantino had done rewrites that included many racial slurs. As the actor blew up at Tarantino, the director reportedly wanted to move the discussion to somewhere private, but Washington felt it was something everyone needed to hear. Despite the tension, years later Washington revealed he and Tarantino had made amends. “I buried the hatchet. I sought him out ten years ago. I told him ‘Look I apologize.’ You’ve just gotta let that go. You gonna walk around with that the rest of your life? He seemed relieved.” He added that his own daughter Katia was working with Tarantino on Django Unchained, stating, “Here we are ten years later, and my daughter is working with Quentin. Life is something.”
On top of being an extremely busy actor, Washington is also one of the most active in working outside the industry and giving back. As a devout Christian he donated $2.5 million in 1995 in order to help build the new West Angeles Church of God in Christ in L.A. He has also been a national spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America since 1993, and has made substantial donations to the Fisher House Foundation which provides comfortable homes for military families to stay out while their loved ones receive treatment. Then in 2006, the actor made waves when Colombia’s largest rebel group, The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, stated that Washington was one of only three people they were willing to negotiate with for the exchange of imprisoned hostages, the other two people being directors Oliver Stone and Michael Moore.
2. Personal Life
In 1977, on the set of his very first on-screen role in Wilma, Washington met actress Pauletta Pearson. Six years later on June 25, 1983, Washington and Pearson were married. In 1984 they welcomed their first child, a son John David; two years later they welcomed their first daughter Katia; and then in 1991 welcomed twins Olivia and Malcolm. Their son John David ended up being signed in the NFL by the St. Louis Rams but never had a successful professional career. He now stars opposite of The Rock in HBO’s Ballers.
1. Net Worth
After beginning his career in 1977, it didn’t take long before Washington was continuously landing parts in films and also landed a major role on the hit series St. Elsewhere until it came to an end in 1988. He now has a whopping 58 acting credits to his name, which includes several starring roles in major blockbusters, and has won two Oscars. Now, all of that hard work has left Washington with an incredible net worth of $220 million, and he makes an estimated average of $20 million per film, but was paid $40 million for 2007’s American Gangster.