Denzel Washington to speak at Dillard commencement in May _lowres

AP Photo -- Two-time Academy Award winning actor Denzel Washington will speak to new graduates of Dillard University May 9.

Actor Denzel Washington will speak at Dillard University’s commencement ceremony May 9, Dillard officials announced Tuesday.

“We are excited to have Denzel Washington as our 2015 commencement speaker,” said Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard. “He has been a supporter of our theater program, which happens to be the oldest Historically Black College and University theater program in the country (now in its 79th season), for the past 10 years.” he added.

“Several Denzel Washington Scholars are candidates in this year’s graduating class, and they will be ecstatic about having him as our speaker.”

Washington, winner of two Academy Awards, most recently appeared in the thriller “The Equalizer.” Among his 42 film and theatrical roles are Trip, an embittered runaway slave in “Glory,” South African freedom fighter Steven Biko in “Cry Freedom,” and Shakespeare’s “Richard III.” Last spring he appeared in the Broadway revival of “A Raisin in the Sun.”

A native of Mount Vernon, New York, Denzel Washington was the eldest of three children born to a Pentecostal minister and beauty shop owner. He graduated from Fordham University and studied acting at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater.