The organization announced on Friday that Washington, 63, will receive the award at a gala ceremony next June in Los Angeles. When that happens, he’ll join the ranks of a list of well-known predecessors, including Alfred Hitchcock, Robert De Niro, George Clooney, and Mel Brooks., according to the Associated Press.
Washington has taken home Academy Awards for his performances in Glory and in Training Day He’s also received acclaim for his performances in the film adaptation.
He also won acclaim for his directorial efforts with Antwon Fisher and The Great Debaters.” Washington, a native of Mount Vernon, N.Y., was a natural pick for the honor, Howard Stringer, chairman of the AFI Board of Trustees, told Variety.
“Denzel Washington is an American icon,’ Stringer said. “As an actor, he stands tall as a heroic, stoic embodiment of the best in all of us, and he does so with heart, humanity, and one of the brightest smiles to ever light up the screen. Equally formidable as director and producer, he is a creative force to be reckoned with — and one of the most vital, relevant artists working today. AFI is proud to present him with its 47thLife Achievement Award.”
Washington first gained noticed nationally with his role on the NBC TV series St. Elsewhere. Along with his Oscars for Glory in 1990 and Training Day in 2002, he’s also been nominated for his performances in Malcolm X, Cry Freedom, The Hurricane, Flight, Fences, and Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Washington also has appeared in Remember the Titans, American Gangster, Inside Man and The Magnificent Seven.
In making its announcement, AFI recognized Washington as an “iconic leading man whose career spans five decades – an esteemed repertoire ranging from screen to stage, in works defined by his towering presence as a heroic everyman, troubling antiheroes and real-life figures with complicated, often controversial histories.”
The ceremony will air on TNT, AFI said on its blog.