Chadwick Boseman’s Idol, Denzel Washington, Honors Iconic Actor After Paying His Tuition Years Ago

The entertainment world is still reeling from the recent announcement of Chadwick Boseman’s death. The 43-year-old actor was known for starring in iconic roles such as King T’Challa in Marvel’s Black Panther, Jackie Robinson in 42, and James Brown in Get On Up. The talented actor had apparently been privately battling with colon cancer for several years, until finally succumbing to the illness on Aug. 28. 

In the days that have followed, an outpouring of love and respect has been visible on social media and in the news. Celebrities, athletes, entertainers, and the general public have all paid their respects to the inspirational actor. One, in particular, is Boseman’s idol Denzel Washington, who once paid for his tuition to attend the British American Drama Academy.

Denzel Washington once paid for Chadwick Boseman’s tuition to study drama abroad

Before Boseman became a professional, he was studying drama at Howard University. One of his teachers was Phylicia Rashad, who also became a mentor to him. Prior to his graduation, Boseman had gotten accepted into the Oxford Mid-Summer Program of the British American Drama Academy, but was unable to afford it. During an ABC special titled “Chadwick Boseman: A Tribute for a King”  that aired on Aug. 30, Rashad told the story of she managed to get the money for him, according to CNN.

“I made a phone call to a friend of mine, and he called me back and we talked about it for about five minutes, and he said, ‘Okay, I got this money,’” Rashad said. 

Boseman shared the story a few times afterward, one time in particular being his appearance on a 2018 episode of The Tonight Show. He would later thank Washington in person, and publicly, for his generosity. When Washington received the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019, Boseman recounted the story in a speech honoring him.

“As fate would have it, I was one of the students that he paid for,” Boseman said. “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.”

He continued the impassioned speech by crediting Washington for his role in Black Panther.

“There is no Black Panther without Denzel Washington,” Boseman said. “And not just because of me, but my whole cast — that generation — stands on your shoulders.”

Washington released a statement honoring Boseman 

Boseman was also referred to as the “next Denzel Washington”, and this sentiment was not lost upon the iconic actor. On Aug. 31, a Washington representative released a statement on behalf of the prolific actor.

“He was a gentle soul and a brilliant artist, who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances over his short yet illustrious career,” Washington said in the statement. “God bless Chadwick Boseman.”

Chadwick Boseman’s passing is not one that the entertainment industry or the public will get over quickly. His performances onscreen inspired many to be great, and will continue to do so forever. 

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