Denzel Washington may be one of the world’s biggest celebrities, but there’s something very few people know about him.
After decades basking in fame and fortune of the limelight, Denzel has come out to declare he’s a proud Christian. But Denzel’s journey with God hasn’t always been smooth….
Denzel was born December 28, 1954, in Mount Vernon, New York – from the moment he could speak, Denzel spent his time chatting with God.
His father, Reverend Denzel Hayes Washington, Sr., was a devout Pentecostal minister and his mother, Lynne Washington, owned a beauty parlor near their home. When he wasn’t in school, Denzel spent his time bouncing around between the parlor and church.
While he and his mother were close when he was young, Denzel and his father shared a special bond. He told the St. Louis American:
“My father, my earthly father, Denzel Washington Sr. was a pastor for the Church of God in Christ for 60 years…
I know he’s smiling in heaven, seeing his son doing the best I can do today, by the grace of God.”
But, as Denzel got older, he began question his faith and the power of God.
Instead of spending his days inside the church and his mother’s beauty parlor, teenage Denzel started to hang out on the street and get into fights more and more often. His anger grew deeper at 14, when his parents got divorced.
It felt like life as he knew it was crashing down around him.
Never a top student, Denzel started slacking off consistently and his grades began to slip even further. Knowing she had to stop his bad behavior in its tracks, Lynne placed Denzel in the nearby Oakland Military Academy.
It was time to shape up! During his time in the academy, God managed to work His way back into Denzel’s life once again.
Denzel’s “come to Jesus” moment occurred when he was visiting his mother’s parlor, according to the St. Louis American:
“I had flunked out of college. I had a 1.7 grade point average. I had no future…. I was sitting looking in the mirror and I see a woman behind me sitting under the dryer. Of course, the voice of God always comes from under a dryer.
She said, ‘young man, you are going to travel the world and speak to people.
Now mind you, I was 20 years old, with a 1.7 grade point average and had flunked out of school. She said, ‘you are going to preach.'”
Inspired by the woman’s words, Denzel enrolled in Fordham University where he played basketball and chose medicine as his major! He finally felt a sense of direction – but it didn’t last long.
Just a few months into his studies, Denzel realized being a doctor wasn’t what he wanted to do with his life. Once again, he was left in limbo until things became clear.
So, as millions of students do today, Denzel decided to take a semester off from school and focus on finding his true passion.
To make a little cash in the meantime, the rudderless young man turned to Camp Sloane YMCA in Lakeville, Connecticut. He was offered a position as the Creative Arts Director and took it in a heartbeat.
The Camp Sloane website explained how their program helped propel Denzel into the actor he is today:
“The counselors there put on a talent show for the kids. I put together these little poems and rhymes and skits for the kids in my cabin, and we stood up on stage and did our bit. After the show this guy named Miles Joyce came up to me and said, ‘Man, you ever thought about being an actor?'”
The thought didn’t really cross his mind until that second. In a moment, his life was changed forever….
With a newfound passion, Denzel returned to Fordham in 1977 and pursued an Arts in Journalism degree.
As if a Bachelor’s degree wasn’t enough for Denzel, his acting chops earned him a scholarship at the prestigious American Conservatory Theatre across the country in San Francisco.
Before he got the chance to obtain his Graduate degree, Denzel was whisked up into the world of acting! He briefly returned to New York to spread word of his talents on the East Coast before being cast into the Hollywood box office smash, Carbon Copy.
After that breakout role, Denzel landed spots on Glory, Crimson Tide, The Preacher’s Wife, Malcolm X and The Hurricane, just to name a few!
But Denzel’s biggest film thus far, Training Day, brought him the highest award possible in Hollywood: an Oscar for Best Actor. It was his crowning achievement after nearly two decades in the industry!
Despite his incredible success, he told Charisma News that God never lost faith in him:
“There’s never been a time where God didn’t direct, protect, and correct me…. There may have been times where I was less than faithful to Him, but He had faith in me.”
It’s due to his relationship with God that he’s been blessed with so much happiness, fame and fortune.
As his acting successes kept rolling in with his roles in films like Remember the Titans, he and his wife Pauletta Pearson worked on making their marriage stronger than ever.
They didn’t want to let the pressure of Hollywood break down their incredible relationship.
Denzel told the Huffington Post that couples nowadays don’t seems to share the same drive to make things work:
“We live in a time – and it’s not for me to judge anyone – when people give up too easy.”
In the same Huffington Post article, Pauletta said that marriage isn’t all happiness and roses:
“I live with this man. I see the down part. I see the sad part. I see every part.
He has and knows he has that stability in me as his wife.
That’s gives him strength, regardless of if he misuses it. I can’t dwell on that. But I do know that gives him a great platform to go and fly.”
She knows it takes a brave woman to have a husband in the limelight like Denzel.
After 33 years of marriage, Denzel says what they have to keep in mind to have a happy household:
“Two phrases. One is “yes, dear” and the other is “honey, you’re right.” Be patient. Be good friends first. And stick together. You gotta work at it. I’ve been married 31 years. It’s not all a honeymoon, it’s not all flowers and roses, but if you’re friends and partners and committed, you’ll be okay.”
In a different comment he shared the importance of constantly working to strengthen the relationship:
“I just think that you have to work at it. Not give up on each other. It’s a commitment. It’s not all the honeymoon, it doesn’t last forever, so you work at it.”
Denzel knows that success may come and go, but a marriage is a commitment before God – one that you have to honor forever!
In addition to his marriage advice, Denzel told Evangelical Focus that there’s one thing you have to keep in mind during the good times and the bad:
“Number one, put God first in everything you do.
Everything that you think you see in me and everything you think I’ve accomplished and everything you think I have… everything I have is by the grace of God, understand that. It’s a gift.”
This gift from God has bestowed more blessings than Denzel could’ve imagined as a rebellious teenager.
Denzel has always been an American favorite, but now his relationship with God proves that he truly deserves the success, fame and recognition.