Denzel Washington to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Brian Bowen Smith for Variety

By Wilson Chapman | Variety

Denzel Washington can now add Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient to his list of accolades.

President Joe Biden announced the 17 honorees on Friday. Presented annually, the medal recognizes public figures who have made notable contributions to American society, culture, politics or world peace. The awards are presented in a ceremony at the White House every July.

Washington is the only actor or entertainment figure recognized this year, although sports figures Simone Biles and Megan Rapinoe are also among the medal winners. Other honorees include religious figures Sister Simone Campbell and Father Alexander Karloutsos; political leaders Gabrielle Giffords and Alan Simpson; activists Fred Gray, Diane Nash and Raúl Yzaguirre; former University of Texas at Brownsville President Julieta García; healthcare worker Sandra Lindsay; Constitution Literacy and National Unity Project founder Khizr Khan; and U.S military leader Wilma Vaught. Steve Jobs, John McCain and Richard Trumka will be honored posthumously.

Washington is one of the most celebrated actors, directors and producers of his generation. Over the course of his career, he has won two Oscars for the films “Glory” and “Training Day,” in addition to receiving eight other nominations (including this year, for “The Tragedy of Macbeth”). Other honors he has received include a Tony Award for his work in the 2010 revival of “Fences” and a Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award (an honorary Golden Globe Award) in 2016 for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment. In 2020, Washington was named the greatest actor of the 21st century by The New York Times.

The Medal of Freedom recipients will be feted on July 7.