Best known as an iconic star in films such as Training Day, American Gangster and Philadelphia, Denzel Washington has always been vocal about his Christian faith. In a graduation speech held last May 9, Washington inspired the graduates of Dillard University to "put God first in everything you do."
"Number one, put God first in everything you do. Everything that you think you see in me and everything you think I've accomplished and everything you think I have... everything I have is by the grace of God, understand that. It's a gift," said his speech, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.
Washington told the graduates that back in 1975 while he was at his mother's beauty parlor, a woman predicted that he will someday "travel the world and speak to millions of people".
Despite flunking college with a 1.7 grade point average, he managed to graduate from Fordham University in New York with a degree in drama and journalism.
Emphasizing the impermanence of money, he continued, "You'll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse."
"You can't take it with you. The Egyptians tried it. They got robbed, that's all they got," he added.
The faith-filled speech also told the students about how Washington started to feel how big he has become because of his success. His mother reminded him that he owes it not only to himself but to all the people who have been praying for him.
"I can tell you what you can do by yourself, you can go outside and take a mop and bucket and wash those windows, you can do that by yourself," his mother told him.
Denzel Washington went on to congratulate not only the graduates but every family member who helped them along the way.
"Today is the beginning of the rest of your life and you only live once, so do what you feel passionate about... Take chances, professionally. Don't be afraid to fail," Washington added.
He concluded his speech by saying, "Don't aspire to make a living; aspire to make a difference."
Washington was awarded with Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters after the speech. The actor funds a scholarship program for theater students in Dillard University.
Washington is the son of a Christian minister and has been attending a Los Angeles Church regularly for over 35 years. He has reportedly donated $2.5 million to the church' rebuilding project.