Denzel Washington Interview: Devoted to Family and Faith

For Denzel Washington, it’s not about fame and fortune. It’s about

By David Hochman from Reader's Digest | December 2007

RD: That’s a good thing. So you’ve been married for 25 years? Washington: Coming up on 25 in June. Yeah. I better come up with a plan. So I’ll ask the readers: What should I do for my 25th?

RD: What is the secret to a 24-year marriage? Washington: Do whatever your wife tells you. Yes, dear. And breathe.

RD: What happens to a relationship after 15, 20 years? Does it change? Washington: Everything changes. It happens after 15 or 20 days.

RD: How has the onion opened for you two? Washington: I think it hopefully ends where it starts, which is friendship. And obviously, respect. Understanding our—for lack of a better word—roles. And just getting on with it. Commitment.

RD: How do you get through the hard times? Washington: You have faith. And discipline as well. You have to work at it. I was just reading today: One day you’re going to have to walk with God when you can’t understand where he’s taking you. [Laughs] Your techniques, skill set and connections won’t get you through. So don’t try this on your own.

RD: What does that say to you? Washington: It says, He’s got you covered. My faith helps me understand that circumstances don’t dictate my happiness, my inner peace.

RD: If you could change one thing about America what would it be? Washington: I’d ask to change more than one thing! There are consequences for everything. What’s the domino effect? Start with slavery.

RD: Have you experienced prejudice? Washington: Sure, absolutely. But I’m a positive person, so I don’t get bogged down with it. If you’re expecting that, if you wallow in that, if you practice that, then you’ll attract what you fear.

RD: People look at you and say you have everything. Do you struggle? Washington: Struggle? I’m a believer in positive words. You can create your reality. I’d just as soon say I’m doing great. And getting better. I’m looking upward. It’s just my nature.

RD: Do you feel like a success? Washington: I don’t know what that word means. I’m happy. But success, that goes back to what in somebody’s eyes success means. For me, success is inner peace. That’s a good day for me.

RD: How do you deal with fame? Washington: It ain’t about me. The one thing for me, understanding how I understand God, is that it keeps me humble, keeps the pronouns out of the picture. I’ve been given certain abilities, and I look at it this way: What are you going to do with what you have? Who are you going to lift up?

RD: You’re a national spokesman for the Boys & Girls Club, and you and your wife work with a number of charities. Why have you gotten so involved? Washington: It’s what the Bible teaches. It’s the right thing to do. And it’s selfish. There’s a lot of gratification in knowing that you help people. We realize how blessed we are and feel a responsibility to share.

RD: What’s one thing you’d change about yourself? Washington: My weight! Mind, body and spirit. It’s a discipline, and the body has been lagging. Mind’s really good right now. Spirit is strong, but body’s been lagging. And the body helps the mind. I feel better today having worked out.

RD: Does mortality give you pause? Washington: No. No. No. Nope. As the old folks used to say, You’re born to dead. It’s a part of life. So you might as well get used to it.

RD: What are you most proud of? Washington: God, family, work. When our children were born, I was like, My work used to be my life. Now my work is making a living. They’re life. My children are. So what I am proudest of is all of the above. In that order.

RD: How would you like to be remembered? Washington: I don’t think in those terms. I’m too busy living life.

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