Although he was estranged from his preacher father for some time, Denzel Washington didn’t allow that to separate him from God.
“I read from the Bible every day, and I read my Daily Word. I read something great yesterday. It said, ‘Don’t aspire to make a living. Aspire to make a difference,’” Denzel recalled to GQ magazine.
Like a lot of PKs, Denzel admitted to not always being excited about Sunday morning worship.
“I went every Sunday as a kid. So, I can relate to the people who don’t like it because there was a time when it was a job,” he said. “It was a long Sunday because you had to be there all day.”
Add the fact that Denzel’s father divorced the actor’s mother, and it’s not hard to imagine the Oscar winner losing faith and avoiding the church.
Denzel, who was just a teenager at the time, never found out why his parents split.
“We didn’t have a sit-down,” he explained. “I never asked. What else would I want to know? I didn’t see it coming, but I wasn’t looking. I was 14.”
Denzel lived with his mother until he was 18. After that, he lived with his father who eventually kicked him out.
“I was 20 and had a 1.8 GPA, and they were going to throw me out. So I took a semester off. I remember standing in front of the army recruiting office like, ‘I don’t want to go in the army.’ I started acting because I had done a lot of work with kids. I was at a YMCA camp, and we did a talent show for the kids, and this guy said, ‘You looked like a natural up there.’ So I said, ‘Let me try to act.’"
While Denzel has been a Hollywood staple since he left TV’s “St. Elsewhere” in the ‘80s, the star hasn’t opted to let the public into all facets of his personal life. Unlike many of today’s younger stars, Denzel doesn’t mind holding on to a bit of mystery.
“Sidney Poitier told me this years ago: ‘If they see you for free all week, they won’t pay to see you on the weekend, because they feel like they’ve seen you. If you walk by the magazine section in the supermarket and they’ve known you all their life, there’s no mystery. They can’t take the ride.’ My professional work is being a better actor. I don’t know how to be a celebrity,” he said.
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—Tracy L. Scott