OK, OK. So, I know I promised you a list—and you will get one! But before I supply you with it, let me first start off by saying: Happy Birthday, Denzel! Now that that’s outta the way, let’s just cut right to the chase: There is quite literally no other Black actor out right now that could be the next D—
Oh, sorry. I meant “Dancin Address!”
Riiiight. Snowfall, Outside the Wire, Farming. Easy on the eyes, nice smile, amazing ability to swap back and forth between his English accent and embody a role. Plus he can do a pretty good Denzel impression. I can see why you would say him. But let’s be completely transparent here: Damson is not the next D—
OK, another great selection. He’s charismatic, has a range out of this world, and also possesses the ability to shift back and forth between his British and American accent pretty flawlessly. Judas & The Black Messiah was hauntingly good and I could say the same for Get Out—but for an entirely different reason. He was also terrifying in Widows. Hmm. You may be onto something here but I just don’t know if Daniel could really be the next D—
……You’re just calling out actors whose names start with a “D” now, aren’t you?
Love Atlanta but, no. Will you stop interrupting and let me just say what I need to say? There is no ‘next D—’
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II! Brian Tyree Henry! Jonathan Majors! Chadwick Boseman, God rest his soul. Mahershala Ali! Kelvin Harrison Jr.! Aldis Hodge! Leslie Odom Jr.! John Boyega! Stephan James! Shamier Anderson! Lakeith Stanfield! Ashton Sanders! Better yet, his own son: John David Washington!
*Deep, heavy, American Gangster-inspired sigh* Are you done?
As I have been trying to tell you this whole time: there is no “next Denzel Washington” because there is only ONE Denzel Washington. Try as they might, today’s actors can only be the highest and best version of themselves at their craft. They cannot be the next Denzel. Can they rack up accolades and cultural clout, respect and reverence like Denzel has? Sure. Can they go get the same training that Denzel had? Sure. But what they won’t be able to do is replicate the significance of Denzel’s presence, projects, and path. That type of thing only comes to each person individually and in accordance with their own purpose. The most important thing any of the aforementioned guys can do is continue to be badass versions of themselves. Then maybe, just maybe, we’ll be having a similar argument about them in the years to come.
So who’s the next Denzel Washington, you ask? Hit it, Keith.