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AFI Life Achievement Award

AFI Life Achievement Award

  • Premiered: 
    April 2, 1973
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: CBS
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Award
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Entertainment
  • Tags: celebrity

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Plot Synopsis

Every year since 1973, the American Film Institute (AFI) has bestowed its Lifetime Achievement Award -- the highest honor for a career in film -- to one recipient during a gala tribute. The AFI selection criteria states that "the recipient should be one whose talent has in a fundamental way advanced the film art; whose accomplishment has been acknowledged by scholars, critics, professional peers and the general public; and whose work has stood the test of time." In 1993, the AFI Board of Trustees extended the criteria to encompass individuals with active careers and work of significance yet to be accomplished. The first recipient was John Ford; other recipients include: Warren Beatty, Al Pacino, Sean Connery, Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Barbara Streisand, Harrison Ford, Jane Fonda, John Williams, George Clooney, and more.
The 47th AFI Life Achievement Award was presented to Denzel Washington at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Thursday, June 6, 2019 and was first televised on TNT two weeks later on Thursday, June 20 from 10-11:30pm ET/PT. TCM will also air the program in September 2019 during a night of programming dedicated to Denzel's work. During the ceremony, the following celebrities honored Denzel: Chadwick Boseman, Jodie Foster, Jamie Foxx, Morgan Freeman (2011 honoree), Michael B. Jordan, Issa Rae, Julia Roberts and Cicely Tyson.

Washington's cinematic legacy includes powerhouse, Academy Award-winning performances in GLORY (1989) and TRAINING DAY (2001), as well as celebrated roles in CRY FREEDOM (1987), MALCOLM X (1992), THE HURRICANE (1999), FLIGHT (2012) and ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. (2017), earning additional nominations for each. Washington has crafted compelling, unforgettable characters in recurring collaborations with master directors past and present, bringing stalwart grit and nuanced complexity to films essential to the American canon, such as Jonathan Demme's PHILADELPHIA (1993), Spike Lee's INSIDE MAN (2006) and Ridley Scott's AMERICAN GANGSTER (2007) -- and to blockbuster, crowd-pleasing fare such as Edward Zwick's (AFI Class of 1975) CRIMSON TIDE (1995), Tony Scott's MAN ON FIRE (2004), and Antoine Fuqua's THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016). A creative force behind the camera as well, Washington has helmed critically acclaimed films, ANTWONE FISHER (2002) and THE GREAT DEBATERS (2007), in which he also stars. He won a 2010 Tony for his performance in the play "Fences," and directed, produced and starred in the 2016 film adaptation that earned him Best Actor and Best Picture Oscar nominations.

Other Titles

  • Also known as AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to...
  • Previously known as: American Film Institute Salute to


  • Dolby Theatre (2013 - Present) - Los Angeles, California USA - Map It!