Denzel Washington gave Michael Hainey of GQ Magazine a rather revealing Q&A for their October 2012 cover story. The Oscar-winning actor and director was in New Orleans shooting his next film, 2 Guns, co-starring Mark Wahlberg.

The interview touched upon everything from Washington’s thoughts on Whitney Houston and President Obama to performing on stage with Ludacris’ late father,  Wayne Bridges.  In the excerpts below Washington shares his first job and what message he has for the African-American readers of GQ.

Tell me about your first job.

I was a paperboy. I was maybe 9. I faded on that quick. There’s no money in it. I was 11 or so when I started in the barbershop. That was great theater. Professional liars in a barbershop. There were a lot of father figures in there. I was there with grown men. You know, saying grown-men things. Listening to men talk and lie. I learned to hustle. If you came in, I looked at you like money. Okay, you’ve got good shoes? You might have a few dollars. I had a little side hustle where you brought your clothes on Saturday; I’d take them to the cleaners and deliver them at the end of the day. Fifty cents here, a dollar there. I was 13 and buying my own clothes…

If you had one thing to say to African-American readers of GQ, what would you say?

Take responsibility. One of the things that saddens me the most about my people is fathers that don’t take care of their sons and daughters. And you can’t blame that on The Man or getting frisked. Take responsibility. Look in the mirror and say, “What can I do better?” There is opportunity; you can make it. Whatever it is that you choose, be the best at it. You have an African-American president. You can do it…


Catch’s footage of Denzel Washington on the red carpet of his last film Safe House.

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