Denzel pays it forward

Kathleen Posted by Kathleen at January 24, 2018 15:29:16 January 24, 2018 15:29:16

Denzel Washington got nominated for his eighth Oscar yesterday. The conversation surrounding Denzel’s EIGHTH Oscar nom has largely been about whether or not he was only nominated to replace James Franco.  As Lainey wrote yesterday, even if this did have something to do with Denzel’s inclusion, who cares? It’s not like Denzel Washington doesn’t deserve Oscar noms. Roman J Israel Esquire may not be a great movie but neither was Into The Woods. As I tweeted yesterday, if Meryl Streep can be nominated every time she breathes in a film, SO CAN DENZEL WASHINGTON. 

Denzel Washington deserves to be in the same league as Marlon Brando, Jack Lemmon, Peter O’Toole and Al Pacino, the only other actors to have been nominated for Academy Awards eight times. I’m never going to complain when I see Denzel’s name on the ballot, especially when he’s been ROBBED so many times (Malcolm X, Hurricane, Fences, Remember the Titans – I’m only half kidding about the last one). Plus, if the #MeToo movement had happened last year, Denzel would have won Best Actor over Casey Affleck. Put some goddamn respect on Denzel Washington’s name. 

One of the many things I love about Denzel is that he pays it forward. As Frances McDormand put it, young actors need doorstops too. Denzel (and Phylicia Rashad!) gifted Susan Kelechi Watson, aka my girl Beth on This is Us, with her very own proverbial doorstop by paying for her to go to Oxford University to study Shakespeare for the summer when she was a college student at Howard. 

Susan Kelechi Watson told this story on Live with Kelly and Ryan and I watched the clip a few hours after ranting about why Denzel deserves his Oscar nom. What struck me the most about Susan’s adorable story is how serendipitous it is that this came out yesterday, the same day everyone was quoting Viola Davis on Twitter. 

"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity."

Viola said that in her acceptance speech at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards. It came up because while there was a lot to celebrate yesterday in terms of diversity and opportunity, there is clearly still a lot more work to do. That work involves creating a system that gives opportunities to people who look like Susan Kelechi Watson. Would Denzel have been able to afford to send ten students from a historically black college to London on scholarship to study Shakespeare if he wasn’t, Denzel “First, Only Different, on his way to becoming an 8-time Oscar nominee” Washington? Going to Oxford made Susan Kelechi Watson a better actor and gave her an opportunity to shine in a space not typically reserved for her.  So, not only is Denzel the Greatest Actor of Our Generation, he’s also partly responsible for giving us Beth Pearson and President Blue Ivy Carter.

THIS is what everyone should be talking about. Also, can we give Denzel an Oscar nom for the way Susan Kelechi Watson says he delivered, “Yeah, you welcome?” 


 

Photos:
Frazer Harrison/ George Pimentel/ Steve Granitz/ Kevork Djansezian/ NBC/ Getty Images

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