Denzel Washington was recognized with the American Film Insititute (AFI) Lifetime Achievement Award in Hollywood last night. Spike Lee presented the star with the award at the AFI gala, which was attended by a host of stars including Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Jodie Foster, Cicely Tyson, Mahershala Ali and surprise guest Beyonce. Jennifer Hudson was also in attendance and performed Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
Washington joins stars including Morgan Freeman, Meryl Streep, George Clooney, and Steven Speilberg, who were honored by AFI with this award.
Washington’s cinematic legacy includes powerhouse, Academy Award®-winning performances in Glory (1989) and Training Day (2001), as well as celebrated roles in Cry Freedom (1987), Malcolm X (1992), The Hurricane (1999), Flight (2012) and Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017), for which he earned award nominations.
Washington has crafted compelling, unforgettable characters in recurring collaborations with master directors past and present, bringing stalwart grit and nuanced complexity to films essential to the American canon, such as Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia (1993), Spike Lee’s Inside Man (2006) and Ridley Scott’s American Gangster (2007) in addition to blockbuster, crowd-pleasing fare such as Edward Zwick’s (AFI Class of 1975) Crimson Tide (1995), Tony Scott’s Man on Fire (2004) and Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven (2016).
Washington, a creative force behind the camera as well, has helmed critically acclaimed films Antwone Fisher (2002) and The Great Debater (2007), in which he also stars. He won a 2010 Tony Award® for his performance in the play Fences, and directed, produced and starred in the 2016 film adaptation that earned him Best Actor and Best Picture Oscar® nominations