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Film

How Denzel Washington changed Chadwick Boseman's life

Chadwick Boseman was one of the biggest names in Hollywood before his untimely demise at the age of 43. Known for starring in many iconic projects such as Black Panther, Boseman rose to unprecedented heights and established himself as a bonafide movie star. It turns out that there was another major Hollywood icon who aided Boseman’s journey – Denzel Washington.

Born in South Carolina, Boseman wanted to become an architect as a child, but he was later drawn to the arts. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in directing from Howard University, and his time there proved to be a vastly influential experience for the burgeoning artist who was deeply moved by the intellectual atmosphere.

At Howard University, Boseman learnt from many pioneering figures such as Al Freeman Jr. and Phylicia Rashad. It was Rashad who acted as Boseman’s mentor and helped him take the next step in his nascent acting career by acquiring the necessary funds so that he could attend a prestigious summer program at Oxford along with his classmates.

In the late ’90s, Boseman and some of his Howard University peers had applied to a summer program at the British American Drama Academy at Balliol College, Oxford. Despite being granted admission, they couldn’t go on their own since they did not have the money, which is why Rashad had to intervene.

Rashad approached some of her celebrity contacts, including Denzel Washington, her close friend, for some help regarding this issue. They pitched in for the money, but Boseman only learnt at a much later stage that it was Washington who had funded his education after he read the beneficiary letter.

“I’ve basically been holding this secret my whole career,” Boseman said on Jimmy Fallon’s show while explaining his position on the entire matter. According to the actor, he did not want to gain publicity by dropping Washington’s name. “I think I’ve made it to the point where he’s not going to think I’m trying to get something from him by saying it.”

Before Washington’s patronage became public knowledge, Boseman got the opportunity to thank him personally when they met during the premiere of Black Panther. While talking about their encounter, Boseman added: “I met him before the article came out. So I actually lived up to what I originally wanted to do. It was amazing.”

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