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John David Washington Says Dad Denzel Washington Taught Him To Embrace 'the Freedom to Fail'

John David Washington Says Dad Denzel Washington Taught Him To Embrace 'the Freedom to Fail'

John will be starring in August Wilson's The Piano Lesson which begins on September 19

John David Washington, the pro football player, and actor, is making his Broadway debut. He is following in his father, Denzel Washington's footsteps. John will be starring in August Wilson's The Piano Lesson which begins on September 19, reports PEOPLE. His father also starred in another play by Wilson, Fences, which won him a Tony Award 12 years ago. Denzel went on to direct and appear in a 2016 film adaptation of Fences, for which he received an Oscar nomination. 

 



 

 

John said at a press conference, "Am I nervous when [my father is] watching me on stage? I don't know yet. Maybe. I might not even be thinking about it because I'm thinking about the notes from my director." He added, "I don't know if I have time to be nervous about what he thinks."

He notes that Denzel inspired his pursuit of being an actor. He was asked what he learned from Denzel, to which he replied, "The freedom to fail, to find out, flourish in that failure. In that being uncomfortable, you'll find the greatest parts of yourself as an artist." 

 



 

 

The August Wilson drama is set in Pittsburgh's Hill District in the 1930s when a brother and sister are at odds over the destiny of a family heirloom: a piano carved with the faces of their forefathers. Only by reliving their past can the siblings hope to move ahead, per Just Jared. John will co-star with Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson and Danielle Brooks from The Color Purple. LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Samuel's wife, directs, and John says he's learned a lot in the process. 

He said, "I feel like I'm in grad school. This is an education for me. I feel like I'm becoming a different artist, an artist that I've been wanting to be." 

 



 

 

John had a brief NFL career before starring in this Broadway production. He compares his life in the field to a theatre, saying that he has been having, "sleepless nights" as the day of the premiere is coming close. 

He said, "I'm having a good time, but — like I said before — it feels like training camp. These hours you put in, and just drilling it, you know? There's a saying I go by: 'Averages practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they can't get it wrong." He added, "So what does getting it right mean? It means the truth of it. To tell [my performance] fully and truthfully within the rules of the great writer August Wilson."

References: 

https://people.com/theater/john-david-washington-says-dad-denzel-washington-taught-him-about-embracing-the-freedom-to-fail/

https://www.justjared.com/2022/09/07/john-david-washington-samuel-l-jackson-more-promote-their-broadway-play-the-piano-lesson/

Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Rosdiana Ciaravolo