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Denzel Washington & Viola Davis Talk 'Fences' With Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for 'THR'

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis get serious on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter, on stands December 9th.

Here’s what the Fences stars had to share in an interview conducted by NBA legend and cultural commentator Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Denzel, on why he thinks the story is still relevant despite being written in 1985: “The circumstances, again, are universal. It could happen to anyone. I don’t know if it’s more political now given the election or whatever, but it’s a long way from Troy to now because now we’re post-Obama even.”

Viola, on what she hopes people will take away from the film about black culture: “I think sometimes what people miss about black people is that we’re complicated, that we are indeed messy, that we do our best with what we’ve been given. We come into the world exactly like you. It’s just that there are circumstances in the culture that are dictated and put on our lives that we have to fight against.”

Denzel on why playwright August Wilson wanted the film to have a black director: “Scorsese probably could have directed Schindler’s List and Spielberg probably could have directed Goodfellas. But it’s as much to do with the difference in culture as it is with race. We know what hair smells like when a hot comb hits it. That’s a cultural thing. We know what that smells like on Sunday mornings, usually church-related or something. In my house, it was getting ready for church and your sister was getting her hair fried.”

For more from Denzel and Viola, visit THR.com.

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VIDEO: Ellen DeGeneres Tears Up During Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony

After almost not being allowed inside the White House, Ellen DeGeneres had an emotional moment while being presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom!

The talk show host was one of 21 stars who received the medal from President Barack Obama at a ceremony in the East Room on Tuesday (November 22) in Washington, D.C.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor that a U.S. civilian can receive and Ellen teared up while being given her medal.

“In a career spanning three decades, Ellen DeGeneres has lifted our spirits and brought joy to our lives as a stand-up comic, actor, and television star. In every role, she reminds us to be kind to one another and to treat people as each of us wants to be treated. At pivotal moments, her courage and candor helped change the minds and hearts of millions of Americans, accelerating our nation’s constant drive toward equality and acceptance for all,” the announcer said while she stood on stage with Obama. “Again and again, Ellen DeGeneres has shown us that a single individual can make the world a more fun, more open, more loving place, so long as we ‘just keep swimming.’”

Other stars who received the medal included Tom Hanks, Diana Ross, Robert De Niro, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Redford, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, basketball players Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill and Melinda Gates, and more.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Jokes Donald Trump Thinks He's Michael Jordan in DNC Speech (Video)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at the podium for his speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention on Thursday (July 28) at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Penn.

The 69-year-old basketball legend jokingly referred to himself as Michael Jordan when he walked out on stage. “I said that because I know that Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference,” he joked.

Kareem appeared at the convention to slam Trump‘s views on Muslims.

Donald Trump‘s idea to register Muslims and prevent them from entering our country is the very tyranny [Thomas] Jefferson abhorred,” he said. “At its core, discrimination is the result of fear. Those who think Americans scare easily enough to abandon our country’s ideals in exchange for a false sense of security underestimate our resolve.”


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Jokes Donald Trump Thinks He’s Michael Jordan in DNC Speech
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