Washington directs and stars as Melvin B. Tolson in the biographical period drama, The Great Debaters. Based on the life of Wiley College’s debate coach Melvin Tolson, the film tells the story of how their 47th debate team made it to Harvard despite an era when the Jim Crow laws were commonplace. The film was produced by Oprah Winfrey. On directing:
It’s my passion. More than anything, I enjoy seeing talented people do what they do well. When you’re an actor, you come out of your trailer, do your thing, and then go back in. Directing is about collaboration—the production, the costuming, the script, the actors. I love it. It brings me joy.