Denzel Washington has received an honorary degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

The Oscar-winning actor addressed some 5,000 graduates at the Ivy League school earlier today (16.05.11) as he accepted the award, admitting he felt out of his "comfort zone" at the academic ceremony.

He said: "It's a little overwhelming and out of my comfort zone. I had to come exactly because I might make a fool of myself. I've found that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks. Nothing

"If you don't fail, you're not even trying."

At the ceremony, the 'American Gangster' star - whose son Malcolm also attends the University of Pennsylvania - was praised for his "enlightening and inspiring" performances throughout his career.

Amy Gutmann, president of the university, said: "His moving performances have entertained us, inspired us and often enlightened us."

Denzel isn't the first actor to have received an honorary degree for his services to the dramatic world.

Last July, 'Pirates Of The Caribbean' star Orlando Bloom was awarded an academic accolade by Britain's University of Kent, while 'Sex And The City' actress Kim Cattrall received an honorary fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University during the same month.