Denzel looks back fondly on some crucial advice

12:10 AM October 27, 2018

Denzel Washington

NEW YORK—Denzel Washington joined the Boys & Girls Club of America when he was 5. He’s never really left.

The 63-year-old Oscar-winning actor says the lessons he learned from the youth organization became the foundation of his success. One valuable lesson came after a track and field event where Washington found he wasn’t as fast as one other child.


“I was nervous about that, and I was thrown off by it,” Washington recalled. A counselor noticed that something was wrong and came over. “I remember him telling me that, ‘Yes, that other kid is fast, but he doesn’t know how to run the turns or pass the baton. Your natural ability will only take you so far.’”

That advice paid off when he began learning his craft as an actor. He started performing as a junior in college and had instant success. But he remembered that his natural ability would only take him so far. “So, I decided to continue my studies and go on to work on my master’s—and that was directly related to an experience I had as a child in the Boys & Girls Club,” Washington said.

Washington was in the nation’s capital for the annual Boys & Girls Club National Youth of the Year award ceremony. This year’s Southwest Youth of the Year recipient was Malachi Haynes.

While his children were not as active with the Boys and Girls Club of America, Washington applied the lessons he learned to their upbringing. —AP

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