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The Prophecy That Foretold Denzel Washington’s Path

A mysterious woman in his mother’s beauty parlor had a premonition that he will never forget.

A portrait of Denzel Washington.

Oscar winner Denzel Washington is one of our greatest living actors. But he wasn’t always a superstar. In 1975, Denzel was a 20-year-old journalism major flunking out of Fordham University. He had no clue what to do with his life. Drop out of school? Join the Army?

Sitting in his mom’s beauty parlor in Mount Vernon, New York, he noticed a woman under the dryer. “Every time I looked up, she was looking at me,” Denzel said during a commencement address at Dillard University in 2015.

Suddenly she asked for a pen and piece of paper. “I have a prophecy,” she said, staring at Denzel. “Boy, you are going to travel the world and speak to millions of people.”

Travel the world? Speak to millions? Denzel could barely figure out college! Maybe the woman’s words meant that he’d follow in his father’s footsteps and become a minister?

Months later, Denzel discovered acting. He graduated and won a scholarship to the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. Movie roles followed. As Denzel’s star rose, he traveled the world. His films have drawn millions. He still carries the woman’s prophecy with him.

“What she told me that day has stayed with me,” he said. “I’ve been protected. I’ve been directed.… I didn’t always stick with [God], but he always stuck with me.”

Watch Denzel’s inspiring commencement address at Dillard University:

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