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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington entered Fordham University in 1972 to begin work on a college degree in pre-medicine. To pay his expenses, he acquired several loans and ran an after-school baby-sitting service at a Greek Orthodox Church in Upper Manhattan. He dropped out of school one semester due to poor grades and worked at the post office and then as a trash collector, but soon returned to Fordham. During a summer job at a camp, he made a recitation on stage that set the direction of his career. He was lauded for his natural acting ability and enrolled in a theater workshop. Changing his career plans, he dropped pre-medicine as a major and embraced journalism. While at Fordham he starred in two student drama productions, The Emperor Jones and Othello. In 1977 he had a professional offer to act in Wilma, the story of track star Wilma Rudolph, a movie made for television. Meanwhile, Washington completed his college degree with a double major in drama and journalism.

Washington took breaks from St. Elsewhere to appear in movies. In 1984 he starred in A Soldier’s Story". A Story, based on a play of the same title. Most of the original cast of the play were in the movie. He appeared in Power (1986), which set out to expose the problems of the media. In 1987 he acted in a powerful and moving story portraying the martyred Steve Biko, a South African activist, in Cry Freedom". This film received mixed criticism; some critics felt that too little emphasis was on Biko and too much focus was on the white newspaper editor Donald Woods. Washington's excellent performance in Cry Freedom earned him the nomination in 1987 for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor and the NAACP's Image Award for best supporting actor.

Washington's trademark for success in portraying a character has been to learn as much about the individual as possible, including his social, historical, and political environments and displaying physical traits. With this kind of dedication and zeal to be true to the character, Washington has established himself as a leading actor in the movie industry.



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