Friday, January 8, 2010

Denzel Washington...

Denzel Washington

That is all I could think of to start any article or writing about this brother. Our very own Denzel Washington. His acting career stretches over a span of some 30 years and I was there to watch from the very beginning (``Carbon Copy’’ * ``When the Chickens Come Home to Roost’’). Brother Washington does not seem pretentious or egotistical as an actor, unlike so many other major actors. He has given millions of dollars to build hospitals and to the Boys & Girls Club and to many other causes. He is a genuine personality, a hero among men, a stellar character, a man who stands up for his people—be they poor and disenfranchised or wealthy. He has starred in some of the best movies on the planet and given some of the best performances on the planet. Most notable: ``Malcolm X’’ (1992); ``Glory’’ (1989); ``Remember the Titans’’ (2000); ``Antwone Fisher’’ (2002)--which he also directed; ``Cry Freedom’’ (1987); and ``Crimson Tide’’ (1995). Another one of my favorites is ``Inside Man.’’ These are just a few of the delectable movies that this brother has made. He stands as probably the most positive, strong and irresistible actor on the screen today. When he played Malcolm X he was both intelligent and forceful as Malcolm X himself was. (I have always had a special place in my heart for Malcolm because as a prisoner he read the dictionary from cover to cover. I have always been a bad speller and have kept that vision of Malcolm reading that dictionary in the back of my mind telling me to never give up on my dream to be a writer.)

The movie ``Antwone Fisher’’ is about a young Black man who was sexually molested as a youth. I totally related to that because the fact that I was molested as a child totally twisted and confused much of my adult life. (Through years of therapy, self help and other healing processes I was able to turn that devastation into a positive spiritual force that now helps me in many ways.) I respect Denzel for making the ``Antwone Fisher” film because child molestation is a dirty little secret that the Black community would rather not talk about or recognize. He dealt with it out front, real and raw. This is one of his best films. He played the young man’s psychiatrist and was a strong and supporting character for the youth who joined the Navy and with hard work got past and healed from his negative experiences.

Denzel also gave a great deal of money to Nelson Mandela’s Children’s’ Fund and amazingly found time to write a book about his experiences with the Boys and Girls Club. He also directed and starred in a stellar little film called ``The Great Debaters’’ in which he played the debating team coach for Black youth at an all-Black college. As the team takes on the Big White Colleges and institutions they learn lessons inside and outside of the classroom. ``Debate,’’ his character said, ``is combat, but your weapons are words.’’ This film didn’t make BLOCKBUSTER amounts of money, but it was an important document for many Blacks to see and learn from, as well as many other people of all races…..

Denzel has also made himself available to young people (Such as Hill Harper who went on to be a star in his own right) who want to take up acting. He has provided a leadership role by just being himself. He is also a great mentor as he guides several student actors on their way to becoming thespians of great distinction just as Denzel himself is. He has opened the door for many Black actors and actresses just as his own mentor Sidney Poitier has done.

``When the Chickens Come Home to Roost’’ was the first venue (an off-Broadway play) in which I saw Denzel Washington. I instantly knew—from the way he had expertly crafted the role of Malcolm X—that he would be a force to be reckoned with in the film and Motion Picture Industry. He is still a relatively young man and hopefully will make many more successful and meaningful movies in the future.

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