(New Orleans, LA) – Two-time Academy Award® and Tony Award-winning actor Denzel Washington will deliver the address at Dillard University on Saturday, May 9, when 247 students of Dillard University’s Class of 2015 walk down the Avenue of the Oaks during the commencement ceremony at 8 a.m.
“We are excited to have Denzel Washington as our 2015 Commencement Speaker,” said Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard. “He has been a supporter of our Theater Program, which happens to be the oldest Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Theater Program in the country (now in its 79th season), for the past ten years,” he added. “Several Denzel Washington Scholars are candidates in this year’s graduating class and they will be ecstatic about having him as our speaker.”
From Trip, an embittered runaway slave in Glory, to South African freedom fighter Steven Biko in Cry Freedom; From Shakespeare’s tragic historical figure Richard III, to the rogue detective, Alonzo in Training Day, Washington has amazed and entertained audiences with a rich array of characters distinctly his own. Washington most recently appeared in the film, The Equalizer, directed by Antoine Fuqua. Playing the role of Robert McCall, the thriller portrays a veteran covert operative who seeks redemption for his dark deeds. This past spring he appeared in the Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun, directed by Kenny Leon.
A native of Mount Vernon, New York, Denzel Washington is one of the most versatile actors in the industry. The eldest of three children born to a Pentecostal minister and beauty shop owner, Washington had his career sights set on medicine when he attended Fordham University. During a stint as a summer camp counselor he appeared in one of their theatre productions; Denzel was bitten by the acting bug and returned to Fordham that year seeking the tutelage of Robinson Stone, one of the school’s leading professors.
Upon graduation from Fordham, Washington was accepted into San Francisco’s prestigious American Conservatory Theater. Following an intensive year of study in their theater program, he returned to New York after a brief stop in Los Angeles.
His professional New York theater career began with Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare in the Park and was quickly followed by numerous off-Broadway productions including “Ceremonies in Dark Old Men;” “When The Chickens Came Home to Roost (in which he portrayed Malcolm X);” “One Tiger to a Hill;” “Man and Superman;” “Othello;” “A Soldier’s Play,” for which he won an Obie Award.
Washington was ‘discovered’ by Hollywood when he was cast in 1979 in the television film Flesh and Blood. But it was Denzel’s award-winning performance on stage in “A Soldier’s Play” that captured the attention of the producers of the NBC television series, “St. Elsewhere,” and he was soon cast in that long-running hit series as Dr. Phillip Chandler. His other television credits include “The George McKenna Story,” “License to Kill,” and “Wilma.”
Appearing in more than 42 movies and theatrical productions, Washington has been nominated for 91 awards and has won 39 including two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe awards, five Black reel Awards, 13 NAACP Image Awards, 12 Tony Awards, and 11 Film critic awards, among others.
Notable films in which Washington appeared include Crimson Tide (1995), Courage Under Fire (1996), The Hurricane (1999), Bone Collector (1999), Fallen (1998), He Got Game (1998), Remember the Titans (2000), Antwone Fisher (2002), Inside Man (2006), American Gangster (2007), Fences (2010), and Flight (2012). He won Academy Awards® for Glory (Best Supporting Actor, 1989) and Training Day (Best Actor, 2001).
In addition to his accomplishments on screen, Washington took on a very different type of role in 2000. He produced the HBO documentary “Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks,” which was subsequently nominated for two Emmy Awards. Also, he served as executive producer on “Hank Aaron: Chasing The Dream,” a biographical documentary for TBS which was nominated for an Emmy Award. Additionally, Washington’s narration of the legend of “John Henry” was nominated for a 1996 Grammy Award in the category of Best Spoken Word Album for Children and he was awarded the 1996 NAACP Image Award for his performance in the animated children’s special “Happily Ever After: Rumpelstiltskin.”
From the University Website – http://www.dillard.edu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1851:denzel-washington-to-deliver-commencement-address-at-dillard-saturday-may-9&catid=42:news-and-events&Itemid=890
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