Denzel Washington sat down for an interview with SiriusXM to get real about playwright August Wilson’s decision to only have a Black director take on an on-screen adaptation of his Tony Award-winning piece Fences

In the 2016 interview, Washington discussed directing and starring in the moving film detailing the life of a 1950s Black family in Pittsburgh. 

Karen Hunter of SiriusXM’s Urban View asked Washington why he thought the playwright only wanted a Black director to bring the piece to life.

Washington began, “It’s not color, it’s culture. Steven Spielberg did Schindler’s List. Martin Scorsese did Goodfellas, right? Steven Spielberg could direct Goodfellas. Martin Scorsese probably could have done a good job with Schindler’s List. But there are cultural differences.”

He continued to give an example, “I know, you know, we all know what it is when a hot comb hits your head on a Sunday morning, what it smells like. That’s a cultural difference, not just color difference.”

The Equalizer star expressed the importance of what August Wilson did for the culture. “August Wilson is writing how we feel. That’s why I’m producing all 10 of [his plays]. Because of all those people who laid the groundwork for me to be in the position I’m in, I’m going to make sure that there’s hundreds of roles for the next generation and utilize the power that I have at this moment to do that, and nobody’s going to get in my way,” he told SiriusXM.

Washington acknowledged how different things were when he started in the industry than where it is now. The 69-year-old actor, producer and director said that he wants to be a part of continuing the change and widening the variety of parts available for Black men in the business. 

“It’s much better now. There were no roles like this. I’ve been in the game whatever it is, 35, 40 years. Obviously, it wasn’t like that when I started, if you got a role at all, which is why I thought I’d just be doing theater the rest of my life. I really didn’t aspire to be a quote-unquote ‘movie star’ because I didn’t see anybody that looked like me anyway.”

He finished, “If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage, so you got to write it.”


Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN