Denzel Washington Tells Great Story About Busting Chadwick Boseman’s Chops After He Became A Successful Actor On Denzel’s Dime

Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther walking away from fiery crash
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

It’s a story that’s been told before, that the amazing career of Chadwick Boseman was launched thanks to another great Black actor, Denzel Washington. The Journal For Jordan director happened to sponsor Boseman and pay for him to attend an acting program, but once Boseman made it big, it seems Denzel was (jokingly) looking for a return on that investment. 

Denzel Washington recently appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert where he spoke about how it came about that he sponsored Chadwick Boseman and paid the money so that Boseman could attend a summer program at the The British American Drama Academy at Oxford. However, once Boseman became a success it seems Washington decided his sponsorship was more of an investment. Washington explains… 

Phylicia Rashad was helping kids and she called different people. She called me and I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll sponsor whoever,’ [sic] and he called to thank me. That’s how I found out it was him. You’re sponsoring this kid, this Chadwick Boseman guy. And I said, ‘Yeah, OK Chad, I want my money back.’ So I went to the premiere for Black Panther here in New York. And I saw Ryan Coogler and Chad. He said, ‘Oh I just wanted to thank you for paying.’ I said, ‘Yeah, that’s why I’m here. I’m not here to see the movie. I like the movie, Black Panther, Wakanda Forever, but where’s my money?’

I mean, to be fair. I don’t know what the summer program cost, but with whatever Chadwick Boseman got paid to be in several MCU movies, he probably could have paid Denzel Washington back, and with interest, without hurting himself too much financially.

We’ve heard the story before, though not necessarily this hilarious exchange. In fact, in other versions of the story Denzel has told he says he had a much different reaction to seeing Boseman and Coogler that night.  It’s still inspirational and a bit unbelievable that Denzel Washington and Chadwick Boseman were linked in this way. Certainly nobody had any idea at this early point that the Black Panther actor would become the star that he did. While his career was tragically cut short, he made millions of fans in the time that he had and was clearly on his way to even greater things. 

And Chadwick Boseman specifically called to thank Denzel Washington for his gift. Had he not done that, Denzel might never have known that he helped Boseman get his start. Boseman credited that program, and thus Washington, with launching everything in his career, so ultimately this is the reason he became Black Panther. I assume, in the future, the late actor would have sponsored other young men looking to study acting. It’s too bad he never had that chance. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.