Denzel Washington, one of Hollywood’s finest leading actors, has succeeded in the business by any standard. He’s received three Golden Globe awards, a Tony award and two Academy Awards. But as he recently told T.D. Jakes there are more important things in life than being a movie star.
From his relationship with God and his family, to the life he now wants to lead, Denzel spoke with Jakes about keeping his priorities straight. (See the full interview with Denzel and others from the cast of his new movie Fences below.)
Jakes was curious how Denzel and his wife of 34 years Pauletta have survived so many years in the spotlight. “By the grace of God. Really, I’m not taking credit,” he replied. “And a great wife. A strong, strong, strong (woman) … she has done the heavy lifting. She has been the consistent one. She has given daily religious instruction. She makes breakfast, she took them to school. I was out killing the lion, bringing home the meat, you know, providing.”
Even though the actor has a hectic schedule and is frequently shooting films far from home, he insists his family has always come first. “I don’t want that regret,” he said, when talking about raising his kids. “I don’t care how many Oscars and all that stuff, I don’t want to be that guy. I want to be the one that did the best I can for my children.”
Denzel not only stars in Fences, but directed as well. Mykelti Williamson, best known for his role as Bubba in Forrest Gump, plays Gabriel in the film and has nothing but praise for Denzel as a strong, Godly leader: “Everyday this leader, Denzel, brings the Word. On Broadway we would circle and have a word of prayer, we would cover one another, and he was serious about it, every single day. ‘Alright, we’re about to bring the Word,’ and Denzel was waiting for you and you’d better be on time.”
Denzel added, “When we’d have our circle — cause there’s a young girl in the film too — so the young girl, sometimes we’d let [her] lead. Of course, out of the mouths of babes, you know, so we’d go out there together unified with a purpose.”
It wasn’t just the cast members who prayed with Denzel during the movie shoot. Two neighborhood women who watched the filming from their homes each day became his “prayer warriors,” he said. According to Christian Today, these ladies touched Denzel’s heart. “A woman on the corner, she was watching me. She made her house a quiet place of prayer for me, and I’d go in there when things were getting overwhelming and just take a breath. Sometimes I’d just have a prayer with her.”
He explained how the second woman approached him. “Even before we started shooting I met her and I came and said, ‘Oh thank you for coming out.’ She said, ‘We’ve been watching you for a long time.’ I said ‘Well, pray for me.’ [And then] she said, ‘Denzel, I’ve been praying for you for 35 years, my family and I,’” he said. “‘We’ve been watching, we know how hard it is.’”
As this point in his life, Denzel says he’s content and ready to serve others. “You know, I’m in the service business now. I’m fine. I’ve done well. I don’t need anything else. I don’t need watches and jewelry and all that. So I’m here to serve. I’m here to serve God, I’m here to serve my family, I’m here to serve.”
Denzel Washington directs and acts in the movie Fences, which was released on Christmas Day.
Here’s the full interview on the T.D. Jakes Show:
(For more from the author of “How Fences Star Denzel Washington Lives out His Faith in Hollywood” please click HERE)