John David Washington (born July 28, 1984) is an American actor and former professional football player. He is the son of actor Denzel Washington and Pauletta Pearson. He started his career in college football at Morehouse College and signed with the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2006. Professionally, Washington spent four years as a running back for the United Football League's Sacramento Mountain Lions.

John David Washington
Washington in 2022
Born (1984-07-28) July 28, 1984 (age 39)
EducationMorehouse College (BA)
  • Actor
  • football player
Years active1991–1995, 2010–present (acting)
2006–2012 (sports)
RelativesOlivia Washington (sister)

American football career
No. 33, 28
Position:Running back
Personal information
Height:5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight:208 lb (94 kg)
Career information
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only

Washington shifted to an acting career, his parents' careers. He was part of the main cast of the HBO comedy series Ballers (2015–2019). His breakthrough role came playing Ron Stallworth in Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman (2018), for which he received both Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. Washington has since gained leading roles in films such as Tenet (2020), Malcolm & Marie (2021), Beckett (2021), Amsterdam (2022), and The Creator (2023). He made his Broadway debut in the revival of the August Wilson play The Piano Lesson (2022).

Early life and family


Washington was born and raised in the Toluca Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. He is the oldest of four children born to actor Denzel Washington and actress and singer Pauletta Washington (née Pearson).[1][2] John David, as a compound name, is his first name.[3] At the age of seven, he played a student in Spike Lee's 1992 feature film Malcolm X, which starred his father in the title role.[4]

Washington attended Campbell Hall School in Los Angeles, where he was a letterman in football, basketball, and track. He graduated from high school in 2002, and from Morehouse College in 2006.[5]

Football career




As a Morehouse College senior, Washington led the conference in rushing with 1,198 yards (a school record). He also had a 5.6-yard average, nine touchdowns, and ten receptions for 69 yards. In his college career, Washington holds the school's single-game (242 yards) and career (3,699 yards) rushing records.



After going undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft, Washington was signed by the St. Louis Rams on May 1, 2006, as an undrafted free agent. Washington was released by the Rams on August 31.[6] Three days later, the Rams re-signed him to their practice squad.[7] Washington played in NFL Europe for the Rhein Fire in the 2007 offseason.[8]

Washington was drafted by the California Redwoods (later the Sacramento Mountain Lions) of the United Football League in the UFL Premiere Season Draft in 2009. He signed with the team on August 18.[9] Washington stayed with the team after their move to Sacramento, playing for the Mountain Lions until 2012, when the league abruptly folded that October.[10][11]

Acting career


Washington began acting in 2015 in the role of Ricky Jerret in the HBO drama series Ballers.[12] The series was well received by critics[13] and continued for five seasons through 2019.

In September 2017, Washington was cast in the lead role of detective Ron Stallworth in Spike Lee's thriller feature film BlacKkKlansman, which was based on Stallworth's memoir.[14] The film premiered on May 14, 2018, at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d'Or.[15][16] Although it did not win the Palme d'Or, it was awarded the Grand Prix by the festival jury. The film's U.S. theatrical release was on August 10, 2018, a date chosen to coincide with the one year anniversary of the Charlottesville rally.[17] The film was a commercial success, earning Washington both Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.[18][19] In 2018, Washington also starred in the films Monsters and Men and Monster, both of which screened in the U.S. Dramatic Competition section at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.[20][21][22] He also appeared in The Old Man & the Gun, which was released on September 28, 2018, by Fox Searchlight Pictures.[23]

After seeing Washington's work in BlacKkKlansman, director Christopher Nolan hand-picked him to star in his thriller film Tenet.[24] Nolan said of the actor, "[He's] just one of the greatest collaborators I've worked with: extraordinarily hard-working, very, very thoughtful, and very considerate of everybody around him in the most wonderful way."[25] Released in September 2020, Tenet received mixed reviews.[26][27] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone praised Washington's "star-in-the-making" performance, writing, "A former football running back, the actor brings a natural athletic grace to the stunts and hand-to-hand combat that forge a visceral bond between his character and the audience."[28] For his performance, Washington won the Saturn Award for Best Actor.

Washington starred alongside Zendaya as the titular characters in the drama film Malcolm & Marie (2021), which had been filmed in secret during the COVID-19 pandemic. The film was released to mixed reviews, but Washington’s performance received praise.[29][30] He was cast in the role of Harold Woodman in the period film Amsterdam, directed by David O. Russell.[31] Washington performed in a Broadway revival of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson beginning in September 2022 and ending in January 2023. He is set to reprise his role in a film adaptation of the play, which is being directed by his brother, Malcolm Washington.[32][33] He starred in Gareth Edwards' 2023 film The Creator.[34]


Denotes works that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Notes
1992 Malcolm X Student in Harlem classroom
1995 Devil in a Blue Dress Boy with Toy Rifle Uncredited
2010 The Book of Eli Co-producer
2017 Love Beats Rhymes Mahlik
2018 Monsters and Men Dennis Williams
Monster Richard "Bobo" Evans
BlacKkKlansman Ron Stallworth
The Old Man & the Gun Lieutenant Kelley
2020 Tenet The Protagonist
2021 Malcolm & Marie Malcolm Elliott Also producer
Beckett Beckett
2022 Amsterdam Harold Woodsman
2023 The Creator Joshua Taylor
TBA The Piano Lesson Boy Willie Charles Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2015–2019 Ballers Ricky Jerret Main cast; 47 episodes


Year Title Role Category Theatre Ref.
2022 The Piano Lesson Boy Willie Broadway St. James Theatre [35]

Awards and nominations

Year Awards Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2018 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Ballers Nominated [36]
IMDb STARmeter Awards Breakout Star Himself Won [37]
People's Choice Awards The Drama Movie Star of 2018 BlacKkKlansman Nominated [38]
Online Film Critics Society Best Actor Nominated [39]
2019 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Nominated [40]
Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy/Musical Nominated [41]
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role Nominated [42]
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Ballers Nominated [43]
2020 People's Choice Awards Favorite Action Movie Star Tenet Nominated [44]
2021 Critics' Choice Super Awards Best Actor in an Action Movie Nominated [45]
Saturn Awards Best Actor Won [46]


  1. ^ Smith, Krista (April 11, 2018). "John David Washington on His Path from Pro Football to Ballers". Vanity Fair. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  2. ^ "John David Washington". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  3. ^ Lee, Spike (February 17, 2021). "2021 TIME100 Next: John David Washington". Time. Retrieved April 6, 2022.
  4. ^ Respers, Lisa (August 1, 2018). "Don't tell BlacKkKlansmans' John David Washington he's code-switching". CNN. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  5. ^ "Actor and Morehouse College Alum John David Washington Makes Time 100 Next List". HBCU Buzz. February 18, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2022.
  6. ^ "Rams cut 11, including sixth-round pick". Yahoo! Sports. August 31, 2007. Archived from the original on September 25, 2009. Retrieved August 31, 2007. It was widely speculated that John David Washington was a member of the St. Louis Rams but he never actually signed his contract due to a failed physical.[dead link]
  7. ^ "Rams sign seven to practice squad". St. Louis Rams. September 3, 2007. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  8. ^ "John David Washington". The Football Database. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  9. ^ "United Football League Signs 31 Players to California Redwoods' Roster". United Football League. August 18, 2009. Archived from the original on August 21, 2009. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  10. ^ "Mountain Lions begin season with morning practice". KTXL. September 20, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "John David Washington". 2010. Archived from the original on December 9, 2011. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  12. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 13, 2014). "Dwayne Johnson's HBO Half-Hour Pilot 'Ballers' Picked Up To Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 19, 2014.
  13. ^ "Ballers: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  14. ^ Kroll, Justin (September 8, 2017). "Spike Lee, Jordan Peele Team Up on KKK Crime Thriller Black Klansman". Variety. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  15. ^ "The 2018 Official Selection". Cannes Film Festival. April 12, 2018. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  16. ^ Debruge, Peter; Keslassy, Elsa (April 12, 2018). "Cannes Lineup Includes New Films From Spike Lee, Jean-Luc Godard". Variety. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  17. ^ Siegel, Tatiana; Gardner, Chris (May 14, 2018). "Cannes: Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman Draws 10-Minute Ovation". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  18. ^ Staff (December 6, 2018). "'Vice,' 'The Assassination of Gianni Versace' lead 2019 Golden Globe nominations". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  19. ^ "BlacKkKlansman (2018) – Box Office Mojo". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  20. ^ "Sundance Film Festival Unveils Full 2018 Features Lineup". Variety. November 29, 2017. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  21. ^ "John David Washington on Dad Denzel, Spike Lee's Black Klansman and His Sundance Debut". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  22. ^ Hipes, Patrick (January 18, 2018). "'Monsters And Men' Sundance First Look: "Can't You See What's Happening Out There?"". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  23. ^ Perez, Rodrigo (June 5, 2018). "'The Old Man And The Gun' Trailer: Robert Redford Will Act One Last Time For Director David Lowery". The Playlist. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  24. ^ Bahr, Lindsey (September 2, 2020). "John David Washington cements his stardom in 'Tenet'". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  25. ^ Justin Kroll (September 4, 2020). "'I learned more about my body than I knew': John David Washington gets his action-hero moment with 'Tenet'". USA Today. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  26. ^ "Tenet Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on August 23, 2020. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  27. ^ Ryu, Jenna (August 21, 2020). "'Tenet': What the critics are saying about Christoper Nolan's film". USA Today. Archived from the original on October 16, 2020. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  28. ^ Travers, Peter (August 28, 2020). "'Tenet' Review: Christopher Nolan's Knockout Arrives Right on Time". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on August 30, 2020. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  29. ^ "Reopening Hollywood: How Zendaya, John David Washington and 'Euphoria' Creator Sam Levinson Started and Finished a Secret Movie During the Pandemic". Deadline Hollywood. July 8, 2020. Archived from the original on August 23, 2020. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
  30. ^ Malcolm & Marie, retrieved May 27, 2022
  31. ^ Ryan, Patrick (April 27, 2022). "Taylor Swift brings the waterworks with Chris Rock in 'Amsterdam' film". USA Today. Archived from the original on April 28, 2022. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  32. ^ Lang, Brent (March 29, 2022). "Samuel L. Jackson, John David Washington, Danielle Brooks Starring in Broadway Revival of 'The Piano Lesson'". Variety. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  33. ^ "Samuel L. Jackson, Danielle Brooks, John David Washington to Lead Broadway Revival of The Piano Lesson". TheaterMania. March 5, 2021. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  34. ^ Goffe, Nadira (May 6, 2021). "John David Washington Cast In Rogue One Director's New Movie". Screen Rant. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  35. ^ White, Abbey (April 27, 2022). "Ray Fisher Joins Samuel L. Jackson, John David Washington in Cast of Broadway's 'The Piano Lesson'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 12, 2022.
  36. ^ "2018 NAACP Image Award Winners: Complete List". The Hollywood Reporter. January 14, 2018. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
  37. ^ "John David Washington Receives IMDb STARmeter Award". IMDb. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  38. ^ "2018 People's Choice Awards: Complete List of Nominations". E! News. September 5, 2018. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  39. ^ "2018 Awards (22nd Annual)". December 26, 2018. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  40. ^ Justine Browning (December 6, 2018). "John David Washington on BlacKkKlansman's powerful message receiving Golden Globe recognition". Entertainment Weekly.
  41. ^ "2018 Awards Nominees". International Press Academy. Archived from the original on November 29, 2018. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  42. ^ Patrick Hipes (December 12, 2018). "SAG Awards Nominations: 'A Star Is Born', 'Mrs. Maisel', 'Ozark' Lead Way – The Full List". Deadline.
  43. ^ "2019 NAACP Image Award Winners: Complete List". The Hollywood Reporter. March 30, 2019. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  44. ^ "Here are the nominees for the 2020 People's Choice Awards". Today. October 1, 2020. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  45. ^ Hammond, Pete (November 19, 2020). "'Palm Springs', 'Lovecraft Country' Top Movie And Series Nominations For Inaugural Critics Choice Super Awards; Netflix Lands 35 Nods". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  46. ^ Hipes, Patrick (March 4, 2021). "Saturn Awards Nominations: 'Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker', 'Tenet', 'Walking Dead', 'Outlander' Lead List". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 5, 2021.