Denzel Washington generously gave $1,000 each to students who were competing for a scholarship.

The 59-year-old star awarded 24 finalists, from select US cities, who were competing in the August Wilson Monologue Competition a cash prize.

According to the New York Post newspaper, the actor said: ''Just don't spend it all tonight.''

Competition judges included his wife Pauletta Washington and Stephen McKinley Henderson - who he worked with in famed playwright August Wilson's production 'Fences.'

Boston student Ashley Herbert won the contest after beating regional competitors who travelled to the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway to participate in a weekend devoted to the late American playwright, who died on October 2, 2005, before competing in the final round of the competition.

Denzel previously revealed he feels fortunate to have gone to college and then later acting school because both provided him with the early foundations for his successful Hollywood career, which has seen him win two Academy Awards.

He revealed: ''I wanted to carry on with my education, because I realised how important it was. I went to university and acting college. I was in my mid-20s before I started work as an actor. It was something I enjoyed but it was hard to make a living. That's the thing about acting. To be an actor, all you have to do is say you are one. That is perhaps the saddest thing about it. That is why there a lot of angry, frustrated people walking around Hollywood without any training or any work.''