The gala ceremony takes place next year in Los Angeles.
Washington, 63, has taken home Academy Awards for his performances in “Glory” and “Training Day.” The Mount Vernon, New York, native has also won acclaim for his directorial efforts with “Antwon Fisher” and “The Great Debaters.”
Howard Stringer, chairman of the AFI board of trustees, told Variety magazine that Washington was a natural pick for the award.
“Denzel Washington is an American icon,” Stringer said. “As an actor, he stands tall as a heroic, stoic embodiment of the best in all of us, and he does so with heart, humanity, =and one of the brightest smiles to ever light up the screen. Equally formidable as director and producer, he is a creative force to be reckoned with — and one of the most vital, relevant artists working today.”
This article originally appeared in The Washington Informer.