Whether in his professional life as an actor and producer or his personal role as a husband, father and activist, Isaiah Washington passionately commits himself to all ventures. As an actor, critics have lauded Isaiah’s ability to effortlessly disappear into each role; allowing the audience to become acquainted with the multifaceted nature of the character. As a producer, Isaiah has championed a variety of projects which fulfill his vision to enlighten the human imagination and experience. As a philanthropist, he uses his resources and notoriety to aide people in need both at home and abroad, founding his own non-profit organization, The Gondobay Manga Foundation, for his work in Sierra Leone, West Africa. It is his fervor for his craft and humanity that drives Isaiah's dedication to both entertaining the public and effecting change in the world.
Over the course of his career, the Houston native has offered memorable performances in stage productions, on television shows and in feature films. But before his current career, Isaiah served in the Air Force, specializing in Aerospace Engineering. After seeing Spike Lee’s first feature film, She’s Gotta Have It, Isaiah decided he had to take a shot at an acting career. Captured by Lee’s vivid storytelling and filmmaking, Isaiah was drawn to the art form. He enrolled in Howard University and joined the legendary performer Ossie Davis' Howard Players. While attending Howard University, Isaiah vowed that within 10 years he would appear in a Spike Lee film. He has appeared in four films by Spike Lee; Crooklyn, Girl 6, Clockers and Get on the Bus.
Appearing in over 30 feature films, Isaiah’s other credits include Warren Beatty’s Bulworth, Clint Eastwood’s True Crime, Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds, Ghost Ship, Welcome to Collinwood, Dead Presidents, Hollywood Homicide, Dead Birds, and love jones. Isaiah recently wrapped the independent film, The Least of These, in which he plays a priest who is transferred to a Catholic boarding school to replace a priest who has mysteriously disappeared.
Most recently Isaiah has won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for two years running in recognition of his portrayal of cardiac thoracic surgeon Dr. Preston Burke on Grey’s Anatomy. Isaiah received critical acclaim and an NAACP Image Award Nomination for Outstanding Actor for his work in HBO’s Dancing in September. Isaiah has also guest starred on Law & Order, NYPD Blue, Ally McBeal, and Showtime’s Soul Food, to name a few. This fall, Isaiah will star in NBC’s new drama series, Bionic Woman.
In 2005, through African Ancestry, a personal genetic history company, and a DNA sample, Isaiah learned that his maternal bloodline traced back to the Mende people of Sierra Leone. His father's bloodline was traced to the Mbundu people of Angola. Isaiah's newfound awareness of his direct genetic link to Sierra Leone inspired him to travel to the tiny West African nation. Beginning with his first trip in May of 2006, Isaiah has documented his travels to the country, his appearances before Congressional leaders, and his attempts to bring attention to the needs of Sierra Leone and her people. Through his Coalhouse Productions, Isaiah is producing a documentary chronicling his work in Sierra Leone, and highlighting the present state of the country and her people. Through his own example Isaiah hopes to lead others toward awareness and a sense of responsibility.
Isaiah is the founder and chairman of The Gondobay Manga Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to helping Sierra Leone rebuild and prosper. Recently, Isaiah and The Gondobay Manga Foundation built a new school in the village of Njala Kendema in the Bo Region. The Chief Foday Golia Memorial School, which will accommodate 150 students in grades K-5, will open in September 2007 and is named in honor of the former leader of the village. Isaiah and his foundation have also worked with the White House Summit on Malaria to fight the war against malaria's devastating effects throughout Africa. The Gondobay Manga Foundation is currently working on in country projects to address the medical and educational needs of Sierra Leoneans, as well as efforts to preserve and restore the country's rich history.
Isaiah currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife of 10 years, fashion designer Jenisa and their three children; 2 sons and a daughter.
For more information about Isaiah Washington and Coalhouse Productions, please visit IsaiahWashington.com.
For information about The Gondobay Manga Foundation, please visit gondobaymangafoundation.org.