John David credits dad Denzel Washington for teaching him about embracing “this important thing” in life

The famous actor, J.D. Washington, is following in his famous father’s footsteps in more ways than one. Speaking at a press conference promoting his show on Wednesday, John addressed the pressure of having his Oscar-winner dad, Denzel Washington, watching him perform on stage. According to PEOPLE, Washington also shares history with Wilson, having won a Tony Award for his work in another of Wilson’s plays, Fences, 12 years ago. The actor later went on to direct and star in a 2016 film adaptation of Fences and also earn an Oscar nomination for his performance in the movie. 

“Am I nervous when [my father is] watching me on stage? I don’t know yet. Maybe. I might not even be thinking about it because I’m thinking about the notes from my director,” John said on Wednesday. “I don’t know if I have time to be nervous about what he thinks.” Although his busy schedule keeps him from worrying about what his father will think about his performance, he admitted that he does often think about some valuable lessons Washington taught him.

“The freedom to fail, to find out, flourish in that failure. In that being uncomfortable, you’ll find the greatest parts of yourself as an artist,” the Ballersalum said of what he has learned from his father. John will star alongside Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson and The Color Purple star Danielle Brooks in The Piano Lesson. The play is directed by Jackson’s wife, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, and John revealed that working on the project has been a very educational experience. I feel like I’m in grad school,” he said. “This is an education for me. I feel like I’m becoming a different artist, an artist that I’ve been wanting to be.”

The play, which will officially open on October 13, will feature John portraying the character of Boy Willie, the role originated by Jackson when The Piano Lessonpremiered at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 1987. The actor, who had a brief NFL career before choosing to pursue acting, revealed that performing in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play is not so different from his work on the football field. He’s been having “sleepless nights” as his first night on Broadway quickly approaches, John revealed.

“I’m having a good time, but—like I said before—it feels like training camp. These hours you put in, and just drilling it, you know? There’s a saying I go by: ‘Averages practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong,'” he said. “So what does getting it right mean? It means the truth of it. To tell [my performance] fully and truthfully within the rules of the great writer August Wilson.”

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