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Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr. was born on December 28, 1954 in Mount Vernon, New York. He is known for his multi-award-winning film career, which includes Oscar wins for Training Day in 2002 and for Glory in 1990.
Washington attended the Pennington-Grimes Elementary School until 1968, when he switched to Oakland Military Academy in New Windsor, New York, and then to Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1970. He would eventually go on to earn a bachelor of arts in drama and journalism from Fordham University in 1977, where he enrolled at the Lincoln Center campus to study acting and was cast in the titular roles of Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones and Shakespeare's Othello. He furthered his studies at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco before returning to New York City to begin his professional acting career.
On the New York stage, Washington's first credit was The Public Theater's 1979 Shakespeare in the Park production of Coriolanus. He then appeared as Private First Class Melvin Peterson in the 1981 Off-Broadway production of A Soldier's Play. He made his Broadway debut as Sylvester Williams in the Broadway premiere of Checkmates, which ran from August to December 1988, before returning to Shakespeare in the Park in 1990 to play Richard Duke of Gloucester in The Tragedy of Richard III.
Washington next returned to the New York stage almost 15 years later to take on the lead role of Marcus Brutus in the 2005 Broadway revival of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. He would follow this with an acclaimed stage performance as Troy Maxson in the 2010 Broadway revival of August Wilson's Fences, winning a Tony Award in the category of Best Actor in a Play at the 2010 ceremony. Washington returned to Broadway in 2014 to take on the role of Walter Lee Younger in the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun, earning a Drama Desk Award nomination for his efforts.
On screen, Washington's first big breakthrough came in 1982 when he was cast as Dr. Philip Chandler in the NBC TV series St. Elsewhere, appearing in a total of 137 episodes. His film career took off in 1987 with Cry Freedom. His portrayal of the anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko earned him his first Oscar nomination in 1988 as well as a Golden Globe nomination. In 1990, he won his first Oscar and Golden Globe for his performance as Trip in Glory.
He would become a regular star in Hollywood, earning further Academy Award nominations for his appearances in Malcolm X (1993), The Hurricane (2000), Flight (2013), and the film adaptation of Fences in 2017 (which he also directed) and winning his second Oscar for his portrayal of corrupt cop Alonzo Harris in Training Day in 2002. Washington also earned Golden Globe nominations for American Gangster in 2008 and for Roman J. Israel, Esq. in January 2018. Other notable film credits include The Equalizer, The Book of Eli, The Great Debaters, Deja Vu, Remember the Titans, The Preacher's Wife, The Pelican Brief, and Philadelphia.
Washington returned to the Broadway stage to take on the role of Hickey in Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh from March 23 though to July 1, 2018, earning his second Tony Award nomination.