John David Washington on the people who inspired the man he is today

A skyscape with half a man's face

As part of our Black History Month coverage, we invited actor John David Washington to Soho Warehouse in Downtown LA for a conversation about his personal inspiration and the influential figures in his upbringing 

By Eddie Valcin    Photography by Dominic Miller    Video by Brecht Vanthof    Sound Design by Leon Jean-Marie    Tuesday, 2 February, 2021

From his parents and uncles to a high-school teacher, actor John David Washington highlights the people who encouraged him to explore his inner artist, and challenged him to apply spirituality and embody his Blackness.

Washington stars as Malcolm in Netflix’s Oscars favourite Malcolm & Marie alongside generational talent Zendaya. When asked about his preparation for the film, he said that he channelled the pioneers who paved the way before him – Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, and Samuel L Jackson.

Malcolm & Marie is released exclusively on Netflix on 5 February; directed by Sam Levinson and produced by Ashley Levinson.