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‘I’m Still Not Out of His Shadow’: John David Washington Believes People Still See Him As ‘Denzel’s Son’

Although many would say John David Washington has made a name for himself in the film industry, he believes fans have still not learned to separate his success from that of his father, who happens to be Denzel Washington.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, he said, “I don’t even know if [people] see me as John David yet. I’m still ‘Denzel’s son.’ I’m always his son.” His next statement answered the interviewer’s question about how he handles being a celebrity. The 36-year-old said, “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.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 05: Actors Denzel Washington and son John David Washington attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on December 05, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Washington fell in love with acting at the tender age of five, and he made his acting debut alongside his father in the 1992 film “Malcolm X.” As he got older he became interested in football and played for Morehouse College. Washington played football on a football scholarship while at Morehouse College and became the college’s leading rusher at the time. He later signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Rams and was part of the team’s practice squad. He had a brief stint in the now defunct UFL, with the then California Redwoods. Washington continued training with hopes to return to the NFL, but suffered from a severe Achilles tendon injury in 2013.

For Washington, playing football was a healthy way for him to address the anger he was dealing with while growing up. The “Malcolm and Marie” actor said, “I literally wanted to get some aggression out. The growing pains of being a teenager, the stuff I’ve experienced, being the son of someone. I could get that out here. I wanted to be productive with my anger. And I could use it as part of something positive.”

But his football career ended at age 28 after he tore his Achilles tendon, but the injury is what miraculously led him back to his first love…acting. He auditioned for his breakout role in “Ballers,” where he ironically plays a football player and was told by a woman he auditioned for, “Don’t play football ever again. You need to be doing this. You’re supposed to be doing this.”

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