Denzel Washington’s impressive career has been rewarded over the years with a wide assortment of honors for his exemplary performances in film and on stage. And last week, the accolades continued with the star winning his first Screen Actors Guild Award. It was his sixth nomination by SAG-AFTRA which celebrates the greatest performances of the year as selected by fellow actors.

Washington won Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in the film Fences for his portrayal of Troy Maxson, a garbage collector in 1950s Pittsburgh. He both directed and starred in the adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Washington and Viola Davis reprised their roles from the 2010 Broadway revival of the play which received a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Stage Play.

When accepting the SAG Award, Washington said, “I’m a God-fearing man. I’m supposed to have faith, but I didn’t have faith, God bless you all, all the other actors. I said, ‘You know that young boy is going to win, Denzel, you ain’t gonna win.’ So I didn’t even prepare, but I am prepared!” Backstage, he admitted he indeed was prepared–for rejection.

Among the thrilled audience members was Viola Davis who just happened to be overjoyed for her Fences co-star. Washington continued his acceptance speech acknowledging his dedicated fellow castmates, saying:

“SAG, listen, we’re just actors. I’m famous and all that kinda stuff, but I have the same fear opening night or first preview that anyone else has. We all have the same job and this is not a testament to me, but it’s a testament obviously to August Wilson, Stephen Henderson, Mykelti [Williamson], Saniyya [Sidney], Jovan [Adepo]–you know, the guys that don’t get recognized. So fellas, here we are!”

Backstage Washington elaborated that he gets more out of seeing others do well. “Man gives the award, God gives the reward. My mother taught me that years ago, and it’s taken me a long time to understand it.”

Shortly thereafter, Denzel was confirmed to receive the Hollywood Legacy Award at this year’s upcoming BET Presents The American Black Film Festival later this February.

Indeed the Hollywood veteran has been nominated for an Oscar seven times, two of which he won for unforgettable performances in Training Day and Glory. Presently, Denzel’s Fences earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, Best Actor [Washington], Best Actress [Davis], and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Besides being recognized for his movie-making talents, Washington is also known for his honesty and wisdom. He once gave graduates of Dillard University the following advice in a commencement address:

“Say thank you in advance for what is already yours….True desire in the heart for anything good is God’s proof to you sent beforehand that it’s already yours….When you get it, reach back, pull someone else up. Each one, teach one. Don’t just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.”

And he recently told The Hollywood Reporter one of his first jobs was being a garbage man–like Troy. Certainly, his aspirations have made all the difference in his life. But, always humble, when comparing movie making to a soldier’s sacrifices Washington asserted, “Making a movie is a luxury. It’s a gift. It’s an opportunity. And most importantly, it’s a gift…Don’t get it twisted; it’s just a movie. It ain’t that big a deal.”

 

 

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