Denzel Washington: ‘Put Your Shoes Under the Bed So You Gotta’ Get on Your Knees in the Morning … to Thank God’

By Michael W. Chapman | May 30, 2014 | 12:31pm EDT

Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington. (AP)

( – Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington advised a group of young actors to put their shoes far underneath their bed at night so they have to get on their knees in the morning to find them and, while on their knees, to “thank God for grace and mercy and understanding.”

Washington also stressed that it does not matter how much money you have but how you use it to help others because we cannot take our wealth with us when we die and, he added, “you’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse.”

Washington, who is currently starring in the Broadway play “A Raisin in the Sun,” made his remarks to a group of young actors at an event that was videotaped and posted by his friend Tyrese Gibson, also an actor and singer, on his Facebook page on May 25.

“Between goals and achievement, are discipline and consistency,” Denzel tells the young actors.  “I pray that you all put your shoes way under the bed at night so that you gotta’ get on your knees in the morning to find them, and while you’re down there, thank God for grace and mercy and understanding.”

“We all far short of the glory,” he says.  “We all got to pray. If you just start thinking of all the things that you got to say ‘thank you’ for, that’s a day. That’s easily a day. Right?  So, you have all been given these gifts. We have a little boy in our show – we’re doing A Raisin in the Sun – and we have a circle, we pray every day. And his prayer, this boy is prayed-up. He just prays that we go out and touch someone tonight. He says, God, somebody out there needs us tonight.”

Washington continued, “And we all have that unique gift to go out and touch people and give back to people.  Understand that gift. Protect that gift. Appreciate that gift. Utilize that gift. Don’t abuse that gift. You treasure it.   You have it. You already have it.”

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“And finally I’ll say this, you’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse,” said Washington.  “I’ll say it again, you’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse. Now I’ve been blessed to make hundreds of millions of dollars in my life – I can’t take it with me, and neither can you.   So, it’s not how much you have. It’s what you do with what you have.”

“And we all have different gifts,” he said. “Some have money, some love, some patience, some ability to touch people. But we all have it. Use it. Share it. That’s what counts. Not what you’re driving. Not what you’re flying in. Not what kind of house you bought your mama. But buy your mama a house! [Laughter]  Understand that we are all in this fraternity together. I’m just one of you all. I’m just another actor here on the stage. We all started the same way.”

Denzel Washington, 59, is married, has five children and is a Pentacostal Christian. He won an Academy Award for best actor in the 2001 film Training Day, and a best supporting actor Academy Award for the 1989 film Glory.

In 2010, Washington co-produced and played the lead role in the movie The Book of Eli, a story set in a post-apocalyptic America where the hero, Eli, fights off the bad guys on his way to deliver the last remaining printed Bible to a sanctuary on the west coast, where it will be copied and re-copied for future generations.

In a January 2008 interview with Oprah Winfrey, she asked Washington, “What makes you the most proud?”  He said,  “I'm careful about the word ‘proud.’ I'm happy to have read the Bible from cover to cover. I'm on my second go-round—I read one chapter a day. Right now I'm digging John. He just had dinner with Mary, and things are about to take a turn for the worse.”

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