John David Washington in Tenet

John David Washington has become a rising leading man in Hollywood within the last few years. But having the last name Washington has helped to a certain degree. Being the son of Denzel Washington could be seen as giving him somewhat a leg-up (along with his acting talent). The younger Washington talked about working in Hollywood under the shadow of the older Washington.

John David Washington has quickly gained a name for himself as an A-lister. Films such as BlacKKKlansman, Tenet and Malcolm & Marie have resulted in him being a leading man. Even with his success, the younger Washington is constantly being compared to or being asked about his father Denzel Washington. Despite the constant comparisons, John David has continued to praise his father. Washington recently spoke on being “Denzel’s son” to Rolling Stone:

I don’t even know if [people] see me as John David yet. I’m still ‘Denzel’s son.’ I’m always his son. So, it’s like, the day that they start seeing just me is the day that I can maybe better answer that question about celebrity. ’Cause I’m still not out of his shadow.

After acknowledging this unspoken matter, John David Washington equated his acting experience with his football one. He recalled being Denzel Washington’s son affecting his college football career. He spoke on changing his mindset since then:

I literally had situations where [people] think I don’t need my scholarship because I’m Denzel’s son. Well, I feel like I earned the scholarship. I worked hard, I broke my ribs, I got concussions. I worked for that contract, even though I sat on the bench. I don’t operate like that anymore, and some of them have a point — maybe you’re right! But at the time? I’m not going to be denied. I deserve it just like the next person because I’m working my ass off for it. Just because I’m related to him doesn’t mean that I’m less deserving of something, especially when I’m putting in the work.

Fortunately, John David Washington hasn’t let the “Denzel Washington’s son” talk get to him. He decided to let his work speak for itself instead of worrying about the comparisons between him and his father. A more fragile father-son relationship would crumble under that pressure. But the younger Washington has continued to retain a level of love and respect for the older Washington. It’s nice to see a father-son relationship in Hollywood that isn’t strained or complicated by competing careers.

As John David Washington pointed out in Rolling Stone, he and Denzel Washington had built a foundation long before the younger Washington decided to pursue an acting career. Within the last year, both actors have opened about their relationship. They’ve praised each other in the press as well as spoke on living in the same space during COVID-19. Hopefully, in the next few years, John David Washington will no longer be referred to as “Denzel’s son.”

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