Real name: Isaiah Washington IV
Birthdate: August 3, 1963
Partner: Jenisa Marie Washington (1999 - present)
Washington was born in Houston, Texas, where his parents were residents in the Houston Heights community. His parents relocated to Missouri City, Texas around 1980, where he was one of the first graduates from Willowridge High School, Houston, in 1981. Isaiah revealed in an interview with Star Jones that his father, whom he was named after, was murdered when he was 13 years old. Washington went on to serve in the United States Air Force and attended Howard University.
Inspired by founder Isaiah Washington's discovery of his direct genetic link to the Mende´ people of Sierra Leone, The Gondobay Manga Foundation advocates cooperative planning to achieve positive, timely improvements in the lives of the people of Sierra Leone.
In addition to The Gondobay Manga Foundation, Isaiah also works with Coalhouse Productions to get food to the needy in Los Angeles.
Washington is perhaps best known for his role as the gifted cardio-thoracic surgeon Dr. Preston Burke on Grey's Anatomy, a portrayal that earned him a 2007 NAACP Image Award for Best Actor in a Drama series. He was paired onscreen with Sandra Oh, who plays intern Dr. Cristina Yang. Washington had originally auditioned for the role of Dr. Derek Shepherd, which ultimately went to Patrick Dempsey. Burke had originally been described as a nebbishy, stout forty-something man.
In the show's third season, Washington became a central figure in widely-reported backstage controversies. In October 2006, news reports surfaced that Washington had grabbed co-star Patrick Dempsey by the throat. It was reported that the altercation was prompted by or related to Washington's use of a derogatory epithet toward co-star T. R. Knight and his sexuality. Shortly after the details of the argument became public, Knight publicly disclosed that he is gay. The situation seemed somewhat resolved when Washington issued a statement, apologizing for his "unfortunate use of words during the recent incident on-set."
After being rebuked by his studio, Touchstone Television (now ABC Studios), Washington again apologized for using the epithet and indicated that he has "asked for help" in "dealing with issues obviously needs to examine within own soul." On January 30, 2007, a source told People magazine that Washington was scheduled to return to the Grey's Anatomy set as early on that Thursday for the first time since entering anger counseling after making a homophobic slur.
However, on June 7, 2007, ABC announced they had decided not to renew Washington's contract, and that he would be dropped from the show. "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore," Washington said in a statement released by his publicist, borrowing the famous Howard Beale line from Network. In another report, Washington stated he was planning to "spend the summer pursuing charity work in Sierra Leone, work on an independent film and avoid worrying about the show." In a subsequent interview, Washington claimed that "they fired the wrong guy" (referring to T.R. Knight) and said he was considering filing a lawsuit as a result. He accused Knight of using the controversy to bolster his own career and increase his salary on Grey's Anatomy.