Denzel Washington Tells Us Why He Wants You to Get Involved & Give Back

It's not every day you get to hop on the phone with an Oscar-winning actor and talk about the importance of one of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which help millions of kids of all ages develop the fundamental skills they need to lead successful lives. Just a few weeks ago, SheKnows spoke with Denzel Washington about exactly this topic — along with the breakout year his son, actor John David Washington, is having and what's next in his career. Denzel has been involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs for a majority of his life, and he continues to work with and support the organization.

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When we spoke, Washington's support came in the form of supporting Malachi Haynes, the winner of the National Youth of the Year Award for 2018-2019, who also joined our chat to discuss what it felt like to win an award for his contributions to the Boys & Girls Clubs. In speaking with both men, it became clear they wanted to impress upon us the importance of getting involved and active in the community.

SheKnows: Denzel, can you tell me how you got involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America originally and why you chose to stay involved? 

Denzel Washington: I wanted to join the club from the age of 5. They were building a [Boys & Girls] club in my town and I always just wanted to go there. I wondered what went on there. Now, I've spent 50-some-odd years as a member, as a counselor and as a spokesperson. So, it's always been a bright light in my life and at a positive place, as they say, for young people. I owe a tremendous amount to the Boys & Girls Club for guiding me and helping me to become the man that I am. 

Photo of Denzel Washington & Malachi Haynes for Boys & Girls Clubs of America

SheKnows: From your experiences with Boys & Girls Clubs, can you tell me what you'd recommend to others who want to get involved in charitable giving?

DW: I think that's a good question for Malachi. Malachi, what do you suggest they do?

Malachi Haynes: Well, I think people should just go to the Boys & Girls Club and get active within [that community]. As soon as you walk through the doors, you can feel the magic — the Boys & Girls Club kind of aura about it. It's really amazing.

SheKnows: Malachi, can you tell me a little bit more about the process you've been through, leading up to your competition win?

MH: Yeah, I can't quite put into words right now. I'm just feeling kind of surreal right now. [The night I won] I had all kinds of emotions running through my head, but right now it kind of feels nice to know that hard work does pay off. 

SheKnows: Denzel, your son, John David Washington, is having a breakout year as an actor. Has he come to you with any advice on how to navigate the world of acting and being a celebrity?

DW: Well, we've talked [about acting] all of his life and anything he would ask, I tried to give him an honest answer. I'm very proud of him, as is my wife [actor Pauletta Washington], and I think he's well on his way.

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SheKnows: Denzel, can you give us a little preview of what you're working on at the moment?

DW: Unemployment [laughs]. I recently did a run in five-hour play in the spring, The Iceman Cometh, which was a real workout. I look forward to my next project, but right now I'm enjoying unemployment.

Click here to learn more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year program and all of this year’s finalists.

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