Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
July 28, 1984
Currently Known For:
Football Career, Ballers, BlacKkKlansman
Denzel Washington's Son
His father is one of the most successful actors of the past three decades, and now John David Washington is trying to follow in his famous father’s footsteps. Washington was born on July 28, 1984 to his father Denzel Washington (of movies such as “Training Day”, “Glory” and “Remember the Titans”) and his longtime wife Pauletta Pearson.
Denzel Washington was able to get his son on camera at a young age as John David was just nine years old when he made his first film appearance as a background actor in the film “Malcolm X” back in 1992. At first, John David had interest in acting, but he also wanted to be an athlete. While he was a teenager, Washington excelled in multiple sports at Campbell Hall School, with football being his best sport. “We would walk around the city and (Denzel Washington) would recite his lines,” Washington said about growing up. “Then I saw him up on the stage in the park and I was blown away and I was like, ‘I want to do that.’”
Football took the forefront in Washington’s mind because “As (my dad) started to ascend in popularity and prestige, the world around us changed, the relationships changed, the way people treated us changed,” he said. “I became self-conscious – I wanted to do stuff on my own. Football was my art form to say, ‘Hey this is my own thing.’ I got lost in that character, if you will, because of my relentless pursuit of independence.”
While he didn’t get many offers from the big football schools, Washington was able to keep his football career going into college, signing with Division II team Morehouse College. Washington was perhaps the best running back that the school had seen at that point, as he was setting records in both yardage and touchdowns, having more yards in his career than anybody else in school history.
A professional football career is pretty rare for a Division II NCAA player, and Washington wasn’t selected in the 2006 NFL Draft. However, the St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams would still have an interest in Washington, signing him to the practice squad with a chance to make the roster. He wouldn’t make a regular season appearance in the NFL, but did play professionally outside of the league.
Washington would head to Europe to play with the NFL’s now-defunct developmental league, playing one season with the Rhein Fire. He returned to the United States to keep playing when the United Football League was founded and had their first draft. It was the California Redwoods (who became the Sacramento Mountain Lions) that selected Washington in 2009, and he would spend four seasons with the team.
There was a lot of trash talk that Washington would receive over his football career thanks to his famous father, too. “Usually it’s ‘Yo mama this, or yo mama that,’ but on the field it was ‘Your daddy’s this and that,’” he said. “They tried to use my father’s name against me. Football players are creative when they’re in the moment.”
Unfortunately, the league would fold in 2012, forcing Washington to look for a different career path. Naturally, like his father, Washington would find his career in acting. In 2015, Washington would become one of the main cast members of the HBO series “Ballers” alongside Dwayne Johnson, who also serves as the show’s executive producer. On the series, Washington plays Ricky Jerret, and the fourth season of the series debuted in 2018.
When talking about the show, Washington said that “It felt so natural. I was having the awakening that was like, ‘This is what I am supposed to be doing.’ I remember my first day on the set…and there is (Dwayne Johnson) and like a couple hundred extras, and I had a lot of talking to do. I was nervous as hell, but then we got into it and I wanted to do take after take.”
Washington was finally getting the exposure that he wasn’t getting with the smaller college football or professional teams, so it’s interesting that more people these days know him as a fictional football player. It’s also helped him land roles in movies, having his first major appearance in the 2017 film “Love Beats Rhymes”.
2018 would be the biggest year to date for Washington as he had four movie roles lined up, including “Monster” and “The Old Man and the Gun”. The biggest role for Washington came when he landed the leading role of Detective Ron Stallworth in the Spike Lee film “BlacKkKlansman”, appearing alongside Adam Driver. The film figures to be a big success and should only help boost the career of 31 year old Washington, who has found his second calling.
On some advice that he got from his father, Washington said that he was told to keep studying as the acting process requires constant learning. “This is a privilege, what we get to do,” he said. “To be able to tell stories, it’s a luxury. So I have a business-like approach to it, the same way I had with football, but I embrace how much fun it is and the people I get to meet and create with and learn from. I’m always learning. It’s a growing and evolving art, and you can only get better with age.”