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‘Put God First!’: Denzel Washington on Contemplating Becoming a Preacher

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Denzel Washington is one of the most important actors of our generation, however, we are also blown away by his impact off-screen.


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Denzel Washington has been impacting us with his incredible acting for decades now. Since the 1980s he has portrayed a wide swath of dynamic characters on the big screen. Throughout that time, he has also lived as a man of integrity—which has made a big impression on us. We just wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of what makes him such a special entertainer.

He is a Hollywood Superpower

Any actor who is a two-time Academy Award winner like Denzel is bound to leave a lasting impact on an audience. We have especially loved seeing him portray real-life characters in Malcolm X, The Hurricane, Remember the Titans, American Gangster and many more.

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However, his capacity to impact us through film extends beyond his work as an actor. Denzel has blossomed as an incredibly gifted director as well. We are so impressed by the films he has directed, especially Antwone Fisher and Fences.

Washington’s accolades don’t stop there. He earned a Tony for his work on the Broadway play Fences. His television work has garnered multiple Emmy nominations and he has even been nominated for a Grammy for his spoken word album John Henry. Is there anything he can’t do?!

He is a Devout Family-Man

Washington has been married for over 35 years to Pauletta Pearson. Their relationship has been rock-solid over the years and we loved when he and Pauletta celebrated a vow renewal in 1995 in South Africa—a powerful event that was officiated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Reflecting on his 35th anniversary with Bishop TD Jakes, Denzel spoke highly of Paulette. “She has done the heavy lifting. She has been the consistent one. She has given the daily religious instruction. She was the one taking them to school, while I was out providing.” Together, he and Paulette raised four outstanding children and their family serves as an inspiration for so many of us.

He is Deeply Committed to His Faith

While many celebrities suddenly remember to give thanks to God when they win a major award, that is often the end of their worship. However, Denzel’s faith is a deep part of his daily life.

Washington recognizes that as a powerhouse entertainer, he knows how to command a room. This skillset probably would have set him up to be a remarkable preacher. In fact, in an interview with Parade Magazine he once said, “a part of me still says, ‘Maybe, Denzel, you’re supposed to preach. Maybe you’re still compromising.’ I’ve had an opportunity to play great men and, through their words, to preach. I take what talent I’ve been given seriously, and I want to use it for good.”

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In his commencement speech at Dillard University in 2015, we got a taste of how Denzel may have led sermons as a minister. The message he brought was deeply inspiring as he challenged the graduates to “put God first. Put God first in everything that you do.” We were so touched to watch the speech in full:

 He Supports His Community

While he has been involved with incredible philanthropy over the years, we are most impressed with his work for the Boys and Girls Club. Washington has been serving as their spokesperson since 1993. He serves as a loyal board member for the charity and often donates his services to PSA’s for this incredible youth development organization.

Denzel, you are truly an inspiration. You are one of the most important entertainers of a generation.