This Day in Black History: Dec. 28, 1954

Actor Denzel Washington was born in Mount Vernon, New York.

Posted: 12/28/2013 12:00 AM EST

Film star Denzel Washington found his calling at a young age. Born on Dec. 28, 1954, his first audience was made up of the children who watched him perform in a talent show at the local Boys & Girls Club.

When he enrolled at Fordham University, Washington planned to study journalism but later turned back to acting. He won a scholarship to the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where he spent one year before beginning his career.

Though best known for playing dramatic roles, Washington's film debut was in the 1981 comedy A Carbon Copy. After appearing in several off-Broadway productions and television movies, he played Dr. Chandler in the hit medical series St. Elsewhere for six years.

He received the first of six Oscar nominations in 1987 for his portrayal of South African apartheid martyr Stephen Biko in Cry Freedom. In 1989, Washington took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1990 for his role as the runaway slave, Trip, in the historical blockbuster Glory. He won a second Oscar in 2002 for his leading role in the thriller Training Day and has won two Golden Globe awards.

Washington has over the years appeared in a broad range of films from Mo' Better Blues, Malcolm X and Philadelphia to The Taking of Pehlam 123, The Book of Eli and The Safe House. He was a producer on the latter two films. Washington also has appeared on stage and in 2010 won a Tony Award for his work in the August Wilson play, Fences.

The father of four is married to actress Pauletta Pearson.

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(Photo: Charles Sykes/NBC/NBC NewsWire)

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