Denzel Washington Celebrated By Beyonce, Spike Lee + Jamie Foxx At AFI Lifetime Achievement Ceremony

Denzel Washington Honored By AFI
Denzel Washington, Spike Lee and Pauletta Washington

Photo Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AFI

As can be expected when Denzel Washington is the guest of honor, Hollywood’s most elite stars turned out to celebrate the Oscar winner as he accepted his AFI Lifetime Achievement Award in Los Angeles on Thursday night.

Denzel Washington Honored By AFI
Beyonce Knowles

Photo Credit: Mason Poole

Mahershala Ali, Chadwick Boseman, Jodie Foster, Antoine Fuqua, Jamie Foxx, Morgan Freeman, Michael B. Jordan, Issa Rae, Julia Roberts and Cicely Tyson all paid tribute to Washington’s life and work at the Dolby Theatre in the heart of Hollywood and, at the evening’s end, Spike Lee presented the award to Washington.

Denzel Washington Honored By AFI
Chadwick Boseman and Ava DuVernay

Photo Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AFI

 

Additional guests included Ed Begley, Jr., W. Kamau Bell, Joy Bryant, Joel Coen, Richard Donner, Ava DuVernay, Cary Elwes, Carl Franklin, Antoine Fuqua, David Alan Grier, Keegan-Michael Key, Martin Lawrence, Frances McDormand, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Paula Patton, Jay Pharoah, Chris Tucker, Edward Zwick, Taís Araújo and Paola Núñez.

Denzel Washington Honored By AFI
Jennifer Hudson performs

Photo Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for WarnerMedia

Surprise guest Beyoncé presented AFI’s Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal to her frequent collaborator, multitalented film, television and music video artist Melina Matsoukas (AFI Class of 2005). “She is fearless, no matter the challenges, and believes in breaking stereotypes in the industry,” said Beyoncé. “As a woman of color, conformity is not her thing. Her drive, vision, taste level and storytelling are boldly unapologetic.”

Denzel Washington Honored By AFI
Julia Roberts

Photo Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for WarnerMedia

The evening featured a musical performance from Jennifer Hudson, who sang a powerful rendition of Sam Cooke’s classic, 1964 civil-rights anthem “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

Denzel Washington Honored By AFI
Denzel Washington and Pauletta Washington

Photo Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AFI

Presenters gave poignant remarks about Washington’s influence on their own careers. Chadwick Boseman said, “There is no “Black Panther” without Denzel Washington… because my whole cast, that generation, stands on your shoulders.” Julia Roberts, who collaborated with Washington on “The Pelican Brief,” said, “Working with you was like working with The Beatles. You are the greatest talent of any time.” Issa Rae, speaking about how Washington’s work informed her own, said, “He embodies and commands every role he takes on. His performances demand you look at every moment. And he dares you to look away.” Added Michael B. Jordan, “Your gift is to unite us and inspire us, and I want to thank you for leading the way.”

Denzel Washington Honored By AFI
Jamie Foxx, Elisa Pugliese, Michael B. Jordan and Keegan-Michael Key

Photo Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AFI

Accepting the award, Washington closed the night by saying, “The least we can do is think about the young people, the future, and individually and collectively do the best we can to try and turn this thing around.”

Denzel Washington Honored By AFI
Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal recipient Melina Matsoukas greets Beyoncé

Photo Credit: Mason Poole

The AFI Life Achievement Award special will air on TNT on Thursday, June 20, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, followed by an encore at 11:30 p.m. ET/PT. Sister network Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will also air the special in September, during a night of programming dedicated to Washington’s work. This marks the seventh year the Emmy®-winning AFI special will air on TNT.

Denzel Washington Honored By AFI
Denzel Washington

Photo Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AFI

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