Denzel Washington given Life Achievement award by Hollywood

Denzel Washington was given a high honor by Hollywood on Thursday, June 6 celebrating his career spanning 5 decades and two Oscars that opened the door for a generation of black movie stars.

Director Spike Lee was the one who presented the award. Washington received the American Film Institute (AFI) Life Achievement award, known as “the highest honor for a career in film,” at a gala event at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Several A-list black leading men paid tribute to Washington’s trailblazing career. These include Oscar winners Morgan Freeman, Jamie Foxx, and Mahershala Ali. Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan also joined in the stage.

“You paved the way. You showed us the path. But what’s truly monumental is that your influence, your reach, transcends race without ever denying it,” said Ali.

He added: “We are here because we stand on the shoulders of a giant.”

“There is no Black Panther without Denzel Washington,” said Boseman, referring to Marvel Studios’ first film to focus on a black superhero.

Washington is one of only 4 black stars to win a Best Actor Oscar.

He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for American Civil War epic Glory (1989) and a Best Actor statuette for his bad cop character in Antoine Fuqua’s crime thriller Training Day (2001).

One of cinema’s most versatile actors, Washington has received acclaim for both cerebral, nuanced roles and action parts in movies such as Man on Fire, American Gangster, and Remember the Titans.

He portrayed the American Muslim minister and civil rights campaigner Malcolm X in Lee’s 1992 biopic.

Other recent recipients of the annual AFI lifetime achievement award include George Clooney, Al Pacino, and Meryl Streep. Freeman and Sidney Poitier have also been honored.

The gala, which also featured a surprise appearance by Beyonce, will be broadcast by TNT on June 20.

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