The White House has announced that Denzel Washington is a recipient of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom. Seventeen people are receiving the honour, three of whom – including Steve Jobs – have already passed away. It is the the highest civilian honour that can be bestowed in the US, and is probably similar to a knighthood in the UK.
Washington is an actor, director, and producer who has won two Academy Awards, a Tony Award, two Golden Globes, and the 2016 Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. He is primarily receiving the medal for his role service as National Spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for over 25 years, however.
Other recipients include politicians Gabby Giffords and John McCain (who died in 2018). The most decorated American gymnast in history – Simone Biles – is also receiving the honour. She has a combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals. Biles is also a prominent advocate for athletes’ mental health and safety, children in the foster care system, and victims of sexual assault.
Biles isn’t the only athlete to receive the medal, as footballer Megan Rapinoe is also being honoured. She is an Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women’s World Cup champion. She also captains OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League. She is a prominent advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice, and LGBTQ+ rights.
Washington’s movie career began in 1977, with his breakthrough role probably being 1987’s Cry Freedom. His first collaboration with Spike Lee was in 1990’s Mo Better Blues, and he also worked with Tony Scott many times. He won his first Oscar for 1989’s Glory, and his second for 2001’s Training Day. He was nominated at the 2022 Oscars for Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth.
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