Isaiah Washington IV (born August 3, 1963) is an American actor and media personality. Following a series of film appearances, he came to prominence for portraying Dr. Preston Burke in the first three seasons of the series Grey's Anatomy from 2005 to 2007.
Isaiah Washington IV
August 3, 1963
|Alma mater||Howard University|
|Occupation||Actor, internet personality|
Jenisa Marie Garland
Washington began his career collaborating with director Spike Lee on the films Crooklyn (1994), Clockers (1995), Girl 6 (1996), and Get on the Bus (1996). He also appeared in the films Love Jones (1997), Bulworth (1998), True Crime (1999), Romeo Must Die (2000), Exit Wounds (2001), Ghost Ship (2002), and Hollywood Homicide (2003). In 2005, Washington landed his breakthrough role as Preston Burke on Grey's Anatomy. He was dismissed after the third season due to a usage of homophobic slurs to his fellow cast member, T.R. Knight, although he would return for a guest appearance in 2014. From 2014 to 2018, Washington portrayed Thelonious Jaha on The CW's science fiction television series The 100.
Washington was born in Houston, Texas, where his parents were residents in the Houston Heights community. His parents moved to Missouri City, Texas around 1980, where he was one of the first graduates from Willowridge High School, Houston, in 1981. Washington revealed in an interview with Star Jones that his father, after whom he was named, was murdered when he was 13 years old. He went on to serve in the United States Air Force and attended Howard University.
Washington made his feature film debut in 1991's Strictly Business before engaging in a string of collaborations with director Spike Lee. Between 1994 and 1996, Washington appeared in Lee's films Crooklyn, Clockers, Girl 6, and Get on the Bus. He also had roles in the films Stonewall, Dead Presidents, Love Jones, Out of Sight, Bulworth, True Crime, Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds, Hollywood Homicide, and Wild Things 2.
In 2005, Washington originated the role of gifted cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Preston Burke on the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy. His portrayal earned him two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award. He was paired onscreen with Sandra Oh, who plays intern Cristina Yang. Washington had originally auditioned for the role of Derek Shepherd, which ultimately went to Patrick Dempsey. Burke had originally been described as a nebbishy, stout forty-something man. For his portrayal of Burke, Isaiah was honored by TV Guide as one of "TV's Sexiest Men" in June 2006, and was named one of TV's sexiest doctors in June 2008 on TV Guide's television channel. Prior to the TV Guide honor, Isaiah was named as one of People's "50 Beautiful People" in May 2006. On March 6, 2014, ABC announced that Washington would be returning to the show in a guest appearance as Burke. He returned in season 10, which served as part of a farewell storyline for Sandra Oh's character, Cristina Yang. The characters had been previously engaged to be married.
In the show's third season, Washington became a central figure in a widely reported backstage controversy. In October 2006, rumors surfaced that Washington allegedly insulted co-star T. R. Knight with a homophobic slur while arguing with Patrick Dempsey. Knight was not on the set at the time. Shortly after the details of the argument became public, Knight publicly disclosed that he was gay. There were rumors that Knight was going to be outed by the media. The situation seemed somewhat resolved when Washington issued a statement, apologizing for his "unfortunate use of words during the recent incident on-set".
The controversy later resurfaced when the cast appeared at the Golden Globes in January 2007. While being interviewed on the red carpet prior to the awards, Washington joked, "I love gay. I wanted to be gay. Please let me be gay". After the show won Best Drama, Washington, in response to press queries as to any conflicts backstage, said, "No, I did not call T.R. a faggot". However, in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Knight said that "everybody heard him".
After being rebuked by his studio, Touchstone Television (now ABC Studios), Washington issued a statement apologizing at length for using the epithet in an argument with Patrick Dempsey. On January 30, 2007, a source told People magazine that Washington was scheduled to return to the Grey's Anatomy set as early as that Thursday for the first time since entering "executive counseling" after making the comments at the Golden Globes.
However, on June 7, 2007, ABC announced it had decided not to renew Washington's contract, and that he would be dropped from the show. "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore," Washington said in a statement released by his publicist (borrowing the famous line from Network). In another report, Washington stated he was planning to "spend the summer pursuing charity work in Sierra Leone, work on an independent film and avoid worrying about the show". Washington, in late June 2007, began asserting that racism within the media was a factor in his firing from the series. On July 2, 2007, Washington appeared on Larry King Live on CNN, to present his side of the controversy. According to Washington, he never used the "F Word" in reference to Knight, but rather told Dempsey to stop treating him like a "F-word" during an argument "provoked" by Dempsey, who, he felt, was treating him like a "B-word", a "P-word", and the "F-word", which Washington said conveyed "somebody who is being weak and afraid to fight back". He also disputed the accusations made by Knight, who he claimed was misrepresenting himself out of disappointment over his character.
In July 2007, NBC decided to cast Washington as a guest star in a story arc in its new series Bionic Woman. NBC co-chairman Ben Silverman noted his eagerness to work with Washington, saying it would be "like A-Rod leaving the Yankees in midseason". However, Bionic Woman was cancelled after only eight episodes due to low ratings. Washington himself said that his dismissal from Grey's Anatomy was an unfortunate misunderstanding that he was eager to move past. By the beginning of the next season of Grey's Anatomy, Washington's character "Burke" had left the show following the end of the season finale.
In January 2014, in an interview with I Am Entertainment magazine, Washington spoke about life after Grey's Anatomy and he stated, "I don't worry about whether or not the stories I tell will destroy my acting career, because you can't take away something that doesn't exist. They killed the actor [in me] on June 7, 2007."
Washington played the role of Chancellor Jaha in The 100, an American post-apocalyptic drama television series that began airing on The CW Television Network in spring 2014. The series is based on a book of the same name by Kass Morgan, and developed by Jason Rothenberg. Washington's character was killed in the second episode of the show's fifth season, "Red Queen".
Washington also starred in the film Blue Caprice, which was inspired by the 2002 D.C. sniper attacks. Washington portrayed perpetrator John Allen Muhammad, with Tequan Richmond playing Muhammed's accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo. The film was released in theaters on September 13, 2013.
Washington married Jenisa Marie Garland on February 14, 1996. The couple have three children.
Washington had endorsed Jill Stein for President of the United States, but has since become a member of the #WalkAway movement. He has also promoted opinions prevalent in conservative online communities on his social media accounts, such as the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Washington is of African descent. Washington has written a book called A Man from Another Land, which chronicles Washington's early life, his TV and film career, and his search to find his roots after going through a DNA test that showed his ancestors came from Sierra Leone in West Africa. A genealogical DNA test conducted by African Ancestry, Inc. revealed that Washington's maternal ancestry can be traced to what is now Sierra Leone, and that he has an ancestral link to the Mende and Temne peoples there. Since learning about his history, Washington has traveled to Sierra Leone, donated medical supplies to a hospital there, and built a school. He travelled to Sierra Leone in May 2006 marking the beginning of his charity work and was granted Sierra Leonean citizenship, making him the first African American to be granted full citizenship based on DNA. He has also been vested with a chieftaincy title of the Mende people in appreciation for his work in the country, taking the regnal name of Gondobay Manga II. His paternal ancestry also links him to the Mbundu people, an ethnic group in Angola.
|1991||The Color of Love||N/A|
|1991||Land Where My Fathers Died||Malcolm||Short film|
|1995||Dead Presidents||Andrew Curtis||Uncredited|
|1996||Mr. and Mrs. Loving||Blue||Television movie|
|1996||Get on the Bus||Kyle|
|1996||Soul of the Game||Adult Willie Mays||Television film|
|1997||Love Jones||Savon Garrison|
|1997||Joe Torre: Curveballs Along the Way||Dwight Gooden||Television film|
|1998||Always Outnumbered||Wilfred||Television film|
|1999||True Crime||Frank Louis Beechum|
|1999||Out of Sight||Kenneth Miller|
|1999||A Texas Funeral||Walter|
|2000||Romeo Must Die||Mac|
|2000||Dancing in September||George Washington||Television film|
Nominated – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
|2001||Exit Wounds||George Clark|
|2001||Sacred Is the Flesh||Roland|
|2002||Welcome to Collinwood||Leon|
|2003||Hollywood Homicide||Antoine Sartain|
|2003||This Girl's Life||Shane|
|2004||Wild Things 2||Terence Bridge|
|2004||Trois: The Escort||Bernard 'Benny' Grier|
|2008||The Least of These||Father Andre James|
|2010||Hurricane Season||Coach Buddy Simmons|
|2011||Area Q||Thomas Mathews|
|2012||David E. Talbert's Suddenly Single||Sylvester Stone Sr.|
|2013||Blue Caprice||John Allen Muhammad||Nominated – Black Reel Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture|
Nominated – Gotham Independent Award for Best Actor
|2013||Doctor Bello||Dr. Michael Durant|
|2015||The Sin Seer||Grant Summit|
|2016||Secret Summer||Gus||Television film|
|2018||Behind the Movement||E.D. Nixon||Television film|
|2019||Keys to the City||August King|
|2020||Cut Throat City||Sinclair Stewart|
|2020||Trump Card||Isaiah Washington (as himself), interviewed by Dinesh D'Souza||Political documentary|
|2020||James the Second||Dr. Ramesh||Post-production|
|2021||Escape from Black Water||Post-production|
|1991||Law & Order||Derek Hardy||Episode: "Out of Control"|
|1994||Homicide: Life on the Street||Lane Staley||Episode: "Black and Blue"|
|1994||Lifestories: Families in Crisis||O.G.||Episode: "POWER: The Eddie Matos Story"|
|1995||NYPD Blue||Antonio Boston||Episode: "E.R."|
|1996||New York Undercover||Andre Morgan||3 episodes|
|1996||Living Single||Dr. Charles Roberts||3 episodes|
|1997||High Incident||Rulon "RuDog" Douglas||Episode: "Remote Control"|
|1998||Ally McBeal||Michael Rivers||2 episodes|
|2000||Soul Food||Miles Jenkins||3 episodes|
|2001||Touched by an Angel||Rev. Austin Davis||Episode: "A Death in the Family"|
|2001||All My Children||Police Officer||Episode: "5 July 2001"|
|Grey's Anatomy||Dr. Preston Burke||62 episodes|
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series (2006–07)
Satellite Award for Best Cast – Television Series
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Nominated – Golden Nymph Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
|2007||Bionic Woman||Antonio Pope||5 episodes|
|2008||The Cleaner||Keith Bowen||Episode: "The Eleventh Hour"|
|2011||Law & Order: LA||Roland Davidson||Episode: "Carthay Circle"|
|2011||Single Ladies||Noland||Episode: "Confidence Games"|
|2014–2018||The 100||Thelonious Jaha||44 episodes|
|2017||Blue Bloods||Chief Travis Jackson||Episode: "A Deep Blue Goodbye"|
|2017||Bull||Jules Caffrey||Episode: "Bring It On"|
|2020||P-Valley||Mayor Tydell Ruffin||6 episodes|
|2020||Isaiah Washington: Kitchen Talk||Himself||Host|
Awards and nominationsEdit
|2002||Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special||Dancing in September||Nominated|
|2006||Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series||Grey's Anatomy||Won|
|2006||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series||Grey's Anatomy||Nominated|
- Lindsey Ellefson (2019-11-26). "Former 'Grey's Anatomy' Star Isaiah Washington Lands New Fox Nation Show (Exclusive)". TheWrap. Retrieved 2020-09-08.
- Andrea Morabito (2017-03-31). "Isaiah Washington leaned on military past for 'Blue Bloods' role". New York Post. Retrieved 2019-01-26.
- Goldberg, Lesley (March 7, 2014). "Isaiah Washington Returning to 'Grey's Anatomy'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
- "EXCLUSIVE: Isaiah Washington Apologizes". People. October 25, 2006.
- The Associated Press (January 15, 2007). "Isaiah Washington: 'I Love Gay'". Access Hollywood. Archived from the original on January 20, 2007. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
- "Transcript of Interview with Isaiah Washington and Brooke Anderson". Showbiz Tonight. CNN.com. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
- "ABC drops Washington from Grey's Anatomy". Cbc.ca. June 8, 2007. Archived from the original on June 11, 2007. Retrieved June 8, 2007.
- "Racism was a factor", Washington Post, June 28, 2007.
- For the transcript, see http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0707/02/lkl.01.html
- Freeman, Shaine (January 17, 2014). "Isaiah Washington the Millennium Triumph Man". I Am Entertainment #26. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
- Ito, Robert (September 12, 2013). "After African Detour, Isaiah Washington Is Back on Screen". The New York Times.
- Tom Cahill (July 12, 2016). "Donations to Jill Stein Explode Nearly 1000% Since Sanders' Endorsement of Clinton". uncut.com. Archived from the original on July 14, 2016.
- Halon, Yael (2019-09-04). "'Grey's Anatomy' star Isaiah Washington opens up about decision to leave the Democratic party after Trump White House visit". Fox News. Retrieved 2019-10-01.
- John Whitehouse (2020-07-17). "Fox Nation's newest show is hosted by a QAnon supporter". Media Matters for America. Retrieved 2020-09-08.
- TV Star Isaiah Washington on “Game Changers” Tonight Archived 2011-06-21 at the Wayback Machine, Tami DeVine, Crown City News
- Gloria Betts and Umaru Kebbay take the initiative to make the difference at home during Sierra Leone’s 50th Independence Anniversary Celebration Archived 2011-10-02 at the Wayback Machine, Cocorioko, May 26, 2011
- Remoe, Vickie. "Reclaiming the Middle Passage: African-American Actor Isaiah Washington becomes first to use DNA Testing to gain Citizenship to an African Nation (Sierra Leone) - Sierra Leone News". www.switsalone.com.
- "Participant Bios: The White House Summit on Malaria". georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov.
- "The Isaiah Washington Picture Pages". www.superiorpics.com.
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