23 Most Interesting Facts About Denzel Washington You Should Know

23 Most Interesting Facts About Denzel Washington You Should Know

Denzel Washington“, by Nathan Congleton, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Denzel Washington Jr. is an academy award-winning actor born on December 28th, 1954, in Mount Vernon, New York. He is among the best actors in the 21st century. His first major role was when he starred as Dr. Chandler in the television drama St. Elsewhere that aired from 1982 to 1988. Below are facts about Denzel Washington you probably didn’t know.

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1. He attended a military academy 

When Denzel’s parents broke up, he reportedly became unruly and undisciplined. He was rebellious and would often get into fights with other kids from school. His lack of discipline forced his mother to send him away to the Oakland Military Boarding School to straighten him up. The decision helped shape his future and keep him out of trouble.

Denzel says that he’s forever grateful to his mother for making the life-changing decision because most of the guys he was hanging out with became drug addicts or were involved in crime. Later on, he attended the Mainland High school in Florida. (Parade Magazine) 

2. He was named after his father

Denzel Hayes Washington Sr. was named after Doctor Denzel, the doctor who delivered him, as a sign of gratitude. Denzel Washington Jr. was also named after his father, thus inheriting the doctor’s name. His name’s history is one of the many facts about Denzel Washington that many people probably don’t know. (IMDb) 

3. He is a philanthropist

Denzel and his wife, Pauletta Washington, have launched successful fundraising drives. An excellent example of this is when he donated $1 million to Nelson Mandela’s children fund as a lifetime founder member. He also donated $1 million to the Wiley College; the money was meant to re-establish the College’s debate team. His former university, Fordham University, also received $2.25 million from the award-winning actor. Part of the money was reserved to establish a scholarship program for minority undergraduates studying theater at the university.

Denzel is also the honorary chairperson of an African-American-founded philanthropic organization called Save Africa’s children. Money donated to the organization supports poverty-stricken kids affected by HIV/AIDS and war in Sub-Saharan Africa. (IMDb) 

4. Denzel does most of his stunts

Most Hollywood actors have stunt doubles who perform dangerous scenes on their behalf. But when it comes to Denzel Washington, he prefers doing the stunts on his own. An example of this is when he starred in the film The Book of Eli, released in 2010. Denzel performed most of his fight scenes; he even admitted that he enjoyed taking part in the scenes. This is one of the many facts about Denzel Washington that shows how hardworking he is and his passion for acting. (Digital Spy) 

5. He met his wife Pauletta on the set of a movie

While filming the television film Wilma in 1977, Denzel met the love of his life, Pauletta Pearson. They two got married on June 25th, 1983. However, she declined his marriage proposal twice before accepting the third proposal. Confirming one of the most unbelievable facts about Denzel Washington, Pauletta Washington told Access Hollywood that she rejected the marriage proposals twice before eventually saying yes. They’ve been married for over 35 years now and have four children. (Oprah Mag) 

6. Denzel Washington has won 2 Oscar awards

In 1989, he won an Oscar for best-supporting actor for his role in the drama war film Glory. He starred as Trip, a former slave, and portrayed a defiant character. In 2001, he won an academy award for best actor for his role in the 2001 American crime thriller movie Training Day. He starred as detective Alonzo Haris, a corrupt law-enforcement officer; this role made him one of the greatest villains in history. (Oscars.org)

7. He allegedly refused to kiss Julia Roberts

While shooting the movie The Pelican Brief, Denzel Washington removed the scenes where he was supposed to kiss fellow actress Julia Roberts.  

Julia Roberts confirmed this claim when Newsweek asked her if she was to kiss Denzel when shooting The Pelican Brief. She responded by saying that she wanted to kiss him, but Denzel proposed that the scenes be cut.

It was not the first time that Denzel Washington had a scene of him kissing a white woman deleted. His kissing scene with fellow actress Mimi Rogers was also allegedly deleted due to the fear of negative reactions from women in the black community. Even so, Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts finally shared a kiss on stage when she gave him an Oscar for Best Actor in 2002. (CheatSheet)

8. His dad didn’t let him watch secular movies

Since Denzel’s dad was very religious, he didn’t allow his kids to watch secular movies. He only allowed them to watch Christian movies. He also didn’t let his children play sports; they only attended church services. (Good Morning America) 

9. Denzel has won a Golden Globe award for best actor

In 2000, the multitalented actor won a Golden Globe for his role in the movie The Hurricane. Accomplishing this feat made him the second black actor to win the award after Sidney Poitier, the first African-American nominee and winner of the 1964 Golden Globe award. (Golden Globes) 

10. He publicly declared his support for President Obama

In 2008, he was a vocal supporter of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, who was then running for the presidency on a democratic ticket. He even attended President Obama’s inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington and sat on a front-row seat on January 20, 2009. (Seattle Times) 

11. Just like his father, he is a devout Christian

The charismatic screen persona is a devout Christian and family man. He even considered becoming a preacher and dedicating his life to Christ. It’s not a surprise since his father was a preacher, and Denzel has not strayed from his father’s path since childhood. He still practices his Christian faith, and at one time, he donated $2.5 million to L.A.’s West Angeles Church of God In Christ. He even admitted to G.Q. Magazine in 2012 that he read the Bible every day. (GQ Magazine)  

12. He regrets declining the role of detective David Mills in Se7en

Denzel Washington was offered the role of David Mills in the detective thriller “Se7en” but turned it down. The role was given to Brad Pitt, who starred alongside academy award winner Morgan Freeman. Denzel later admitted to theGrio that the decision to turn down the offer was a mistake. (The Grio) 

13. Denzel is the black actor with the most Academy Awards nominations

The multitalented actor has received eight Oscar nominations and has bagged two Academy Awards in his career. What an impressive feat he has achieved; there’s a lot to learn from these facts about Denzel Washington. (HuffPost) 

14. He used to sweep the floor at a Barbershop

Denzel’s mom helped him get his first job at a Modernistic barbershop when he was 11 years old. He used to do odd jobs at the barbershop ran by a guy called Jack Coleman. He was earning $11 at the time, which helped him learn a lot about business and money. (Oprah.com) 

15. He was named the sexiest man on the planet in 1996

In 1996, Denzel Washington was named the sexiest man alive by People magazine. He was just 41 years old and the first black star to be named the Sexiest Man Alive. Denzel was one of his era’s best actors; he broke the racial barrier when he wore the “sexiest man alive” crown in 1996. (People Magazine)

16. Denzel is an author

He wrote a book called A Hand To Guide Me, a story about the mentors who guided him to success. The book contains stories of more than 70 American public figures in various fields such as sports, business, and politics. A portion of sales made from the book was donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. (Amazon) 

17. He failed his first audition at a Broadway theatre

When Denzel first auditioned for a Broadway musical, he failed because he couldn’t sing and his acting style wasn’t fit for theatre at the time. He even spoke of the unpleasant experience when he gave his famous speech at the University of Pennsylvania and used it to encourage people never to stop pursuing their dreams even when they encounter failure. Denzel made his Broadway debut in 1988, starring in Checkmates. In 2010, he starred in a Broadway drama called Fences and played the role of Troy Maxson. This is one of the inspiring facts about Denzel Washington that we should all learn from. (Leadership Failure) 

18. Denzel has four children

Denzel has four children who are currently establishing themselves in the film industry. His first-born John David is a former American football player. He is also an actor and producer, having featured in an Oscar-nominated film called BlaKkKlansman. His latest project is the action-thriller film Tenet where he plays the lead role. The second child, Olivia Washington, is also an actress and has starred in three films so far. Denzel Washington also has twins, Malcolm and Olivia, who have also started their showbiz careers. (CheatSheet) 

19. Denzel’s father was a preacher, and his mother a beautician

Denzel Hayes Washington Sr. was an ordained Pentecostal minister. Even though he was a preacher, he still worked two jobs to meet his family’s needs. Denzel’s father died in 1991 at 90 years of age.On the other hand, Denzel’s mother was a beautician and the owner of multiple beauty shops. Denzel’s parents separated when he was a teen. (Goal Cast) 

20. Denzel has two siblings

Denzel has two siblings; his sister Lorice Washington and brother David Washington. Little is known about Denzel’s siblings as they have managed to stay out of the public limelight. (African American Registry)

21. He was indecisive about his major

After completing high school, Denzel joined Fordham University in Bronx, New York. He initially took biology studies but later switched to political science. He was indecisive on which major to pursue and spent most of his time playing basketball before deciding to take a brief break from his studies. (Black Westchester) 

22. He has a B.A. in Drama and Journalism

Denzel discovered his love for acting when working as a creative director at a YMCA summer camp in Connecticut. A colleague noticed his passion for arts when he participated in a talent show for the summer campers and advised him to try acting. After igniting his love for arts and acting, he switched to study arts at the Lincoln Center Campus.

Denzel finally graduated with a bachelor of arts in drama and journalism in 1977. He then joined the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, California, to study acting, and later returned to New York to kickstart his journey as a professional actor. (IMDb) 

23. His net worth is roughly $250 million

Denzel Washington is one of the richest Hollywood actors on the planet. His massive wealth derives from the fact that he has been in the film industry for nearly four decades. He earns an average salary of $60 million to $80 Million per year. Denzel made $7.5 million when he starred in the Sci-Fi Virtuosity and cumulatively earned $24 million in the movie The Siege and 2001’s film Training Day. This is one of the many facts about Denzel Washington that makes our list complete. (Celebrity Networth) 

Denzel Washington is widely recognized for his acting roles in Malcolm X, The Hurricane, The Equalizer, Fences, Crimson Tide, among other films. He first graced the theatre scene when he took part in a talent show in the Boys and Girls Club, where Denzel and his brother spent most of their time after school. Denzel was one of the few African-American actors to appear on a T.V. series during that time. 

If you know other facts about Denzel Washington that we haven’t listed here, please leave a comment below. Besides, if you loved reading these amazing facts about Denzel Washington, please subscribe to our newsletter for more inspiring and educative content.  


  1. Parade Magazine: https://web.archive.org/web/20060411214059/http://www.parade.com/articles/editions/1999/edition_12-12-1999/Denzel_Washington
  2. IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000243/bio
  3. IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/news/ni62323980
  4. DigitalSpy: https://www.digitalspy.com/movies/a289740/denzel-i-did-my-own-unstoppable-stunts/#:~:text=Denzel%20Washington%20has%20revealed%20that,to%20do%20my%20own%20stunts.
  5. Oprah Mag: https://www.oprahmag.com/entertainment/a28209460/denzel-washington-wife-pauletta-washington-marriage/#:~:text=Pauletta%20and%20Denzel%20met%20at,in%20a%20Valentine’s%20Day%20(!)
  6. Oscars.org: https://www.oscars.org/collection-highlights/denzel-washington
  7. CheatSheet: https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/why-denzel-washington-didnt-kiss-julia-roberts-in-the-pelican-brief.html/
  8. Good Morning America: https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/culture/story/john-david-washington-talks-footsteps-dad-denzel-75513298
  9. Golden Globes: https://www.goldenglobes.com/person/denzel-washington
  10.  Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/news/celebrities-at-the-inauguration/
  11. GQ Magazine: https://www.gq.com/story/denzel-washington-interview-gq-october-2012
  12. The Grio: https://thegrio.com/2014/09/24/denzel-washington-equalizer/
  13. HuffPost: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/denzel-washington-is-most-oscar-nominated-black-man-in-history_n_58877049e4b096b4a23494e3
  14. Oprah.com: http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/helping-hands/all
  15. People Magazine: https://people.com/celebrity/all-the-sexiest-man-alive-covers/
  16. Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hand-Guide-Me-Denzel-Washington/dp/0696230496
  17. Leadership Failure: https://www.leadershipfirst.net/post/great-leaders-are-comfortable-with-failure#:~:text=Early%20in%20Denzel%20Washington%20career,he%20didn’t%20fall%20back.
  18. CheatSheet: https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/denzel-washington-kids-children-john-david-katia-olivia-malcolm.html/
  19. GoalCast: https://www.goalcast.com/2020/09/10/denzel-washington-father-broken-relationship-mother-lessons/
  20. African American Registry: https://aaregistry.org/story/denzel-washington-actor-born/
  21. Black Westchester: http://www.blackwestchester.com/two-inspirational-commencement-speeches-by-denzel-washington/
  22. IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000243/bio

Celebrity Networth: https://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/actors/denzel-washington-net-worth/

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