How Denzel Washington Played A Part In Chadwick Boseman's Legacy By Paying His Tuition
Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur / Kevin Winter

How Denzel Washington Played A Part In Chadwick Boseman's Legacy By Paying His Tuition

The late Chadwick Boseman was always destined for greatness.

The actor’s pathway to success started at Howard University in the late 1990s.

Boseman pursued a bachelor of arts degree in directing, which he completed in 2000, according to NBC News. Some of his contributions during his time at the historically Black university included creating a play titled “Hieroglyphic Graffiti.”

Boseman Was Taught By Phylicia Rashad

Boseman’s talents were recognized by Phylicia Rashad, who taught the young actor at Howard University.

“I met Chadwick the year that I taught at Howard University. He was thoughtful. I think back on it now, [he was] always studying. In preparation and performance, he was specific, detailed, and thorough, and that required thought. He was always very respectful, very polite, very courteous. That has to do with his parents; the way in which he grew,” Rashad told Rolling Stone.

Rashad saw great promise in Boseman. So, she recommended him to participate in a summer acting program at the British Academy of Dramatic Acting in Oxford, along with eight other theatre students. However, many of the students were unable to pay the tuition.

Denzel Washington's Belief In Future Talent

Fortunately, Rashad connected with longtime friend Denzel Washington, who quietly covered the tuition for the entire class. Little did he know the act of generosity would forge an unforgettable legacy in Hollywood, placing Boseman at center stage.

“Many of you already know the story that Mr. Washington when asked by Felicia Rashad to join her in assisting nine theater students from Howard University who had been accepted to a summer acting program at the British Academy of Dramatic Acting in Oxford. He gracefully and privately agreed to contribute. As fate would have it, I was one of the students that he paid for. Imagine receiving the letter that your tuition for that summer was paid for and that your benefactor was none other than the dopest actor on the planet,” Boseman said during a speech at an American Film Institute ceremony, where Washington was presented with a lifetime achievement award in June 2019.

Legacy

The financial backing led Boseman to dive further into acting which fortunately progressed to major roles such as Jackie Robinson in “42,” James Brown in “Get on Up” and Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall” and T’Challa in “Black Panther,” which for many children became the first-time seeing a Black superhero portrayed on screen.

 

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“I have no doubt that there are similar stories in boys and girls clubs and theaters and churches across the country where I know you have also inspired and motivated others. An offering from a sage and a king is more than silver and gold. It is a seed of hope, a bud of faith. There is no Black Panther without Denzel Washington and not just because of me, but my whole cast, that generation stands on your shoulders,” Boseman told Washington during his speech.

Unfortunately, Boseman passed away in 2020 after a four-year battle with colon cancer but his legacy will forever be cemented in history as one of the most prolific actors of our generation.

As AfroTech previously told you, Howard University renamed the school’s College of Fine Arts to Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts in 2021. Within that same year, Netflix created a four-year $5.4 million scholarship in his name to cover the full tuition cost for incoming Howard students.