America’s Highest Honor for a Career in Film to Be Presented June 6, 2019
Tribute to Premiere on TNT and Encore on Turner Classic Movies
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, LOS ANGELES, CA, October 5, 2018 — The American Film Institute (AFI) Board of Trustees announced today that Denzel Washington will receive the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award, America’s highest honor for a career in film. The award will be presented to Washington at a Gala Tribute on Thursday, June 6, 2019, in Los Angeles, CA. The AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute special will return for its seventh year with Turner Broadcasting to air on TNT, followed by encore presentations on sister network Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Audi and American Airlines return as Official Sponsors of the event.
“Denzel Washington is an American icon,” said Sir Howard Stringer, Chair, AFI Board of Trustees. “As an actor, he stands tall as a heroic, stoic embodiment of the best in all of us, and he does so with heart, humanity and one of the brightest smiles to ever light up the screen. Equally formidable as director and producer, he is a creative force to be reckoned with — and one of the most vital, relevant artists working today. AFI is proud to present him with its 47th Life Achievement Award.”
Actor, director and producer Denzel Washington is an iconic leading man whose career spans five decades — an esteemed repertoire ranging from screen to stage, in works defined by his towering presence as heroic everymen, troubling antiheroes and real-life figures with complicated, often controversial histories. His 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), earning additional nominations for each. 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) — and 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). A creative force behind the camera as well, Washington has helmed critically acclaimed films, including ANTWONE FISHER (2002) and THE GREAT DEBATERS (2007), in which he also stars. He won a 2010 Tony® 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, as well as AFI AWARDS recognition.
More About Denzel Washington
The son of a Pentecostal minister and a beauty parlor owner, Denzel Washington was born in Mount Vernon, NY, on December 28, 1954. His parents’ professions shaped Washington’s ambition to begin acting, with their natural inclination toward storytelling and oration. After graduating from Fordham University with a BA in Journalism, Washington won a scholarship to the American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) in San Francisco, CA. Soon after leaving ACT, he appeared in off-Broadway productions and television movies before being cast in a starring role in the hit television series ST. ELSEWHERE.
Washington’s filmography also includes MO’ BETTER BLUES (1990), MISSISSIPPI MASALA (1991), THE PELICAN BRIEF (1993), COURAGE UNDER FIRE (1996), THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (2004), THE EQUALIZER (2014) and THE EQUALIZER 2 (2018).
He is married to actor Pauletta Washington, with whom he has four children: John David Washington, Olivia Washington, Katia Washington and Malcolm Washington, who is an alumnus of the AFI Conservatory, Class of 2016.
About the AFI Life Achievement Award
The highest honor given for a career in film, the AFI Life Achievement Award was established by the AFI Board of Trustees in 1973. It is presented to a single honoree each year based on the following criteria as mandated through a resolution passed by the AFI Board of Trustees:
“The recipient should be one whose talent has in a fundamental way advanced the film art; whose accomplishment has been acknowledged by scholars, critics, professional peers and the general public; and whose work has stood the test of time.”
AFI Life Achievement Award Recipients
1973 John Ford
1996 Clint Eastwood
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About Turner Classic Movies (TCM)
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. TCM features the insights from Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz along with hosts Alicia Malone and Dave Karger, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. Currently in its 24th year as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials, along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® in February and Summer Under the Stars in August. TCM also directly connects with movie fans through events as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, the TCM Big Screen Classics series in partnership with Fathom Events, as well as through the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, TCM produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs, and hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app.
About the American Film Institute
The American Film Institute was established by presidential proclamation in the White House Rose Garden, and launched its national mandate on June 5, 1967 — to preserve the heritage of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI’s founding Trustees included Chairman Gregory Peck, Vice Chairman Sidney Poitier, Francis Ford Coppola, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Jack Valenti and George Stevens, Jr., as Director.