Denzel Washington & Wife’s Meeting Was ‘Set up by the Heavens’ despite It Costing Her All Her ‘Food Money’

    Denzel Washington’s most tremendous success is his marriage of 39 years with Pauletta Washington, who sacrificed her career for their family. The couple met and fell in love when their names were still unknown to the industry but remained head over heels until today.

    Denzel Washington is without a doubt one of the most accomplished Hollywood actors, but “The Equalizer” star’s most considerable success remains his marriage to Pauletta Washington.

    Pauletta, who is also an actress, is one of Denzel’s greatest pride and job, especially since they share a special bond. However, he believes there is no secret to a long-lasting marriage that would work for every couple.

    Pauletta Washington and Denzel Washington during the 'Fences' New York screening at Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center on December 19, 2016 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

    “There is no secret to the perfect marriage,” Denzel said. “Everybody has their ups and downs; we’ve had ours. It’s hard work, you know. But we made a commitment. A spiritual foundation helps everything – marriage, work, peace of mind.”

    Pauletta credits their strong foundation on both being “spiritual-based” as well. She acknowledges that a powerful Godwink brought their union.


    Denzel and Pauletta were both young actors in the industry when they met on a New York film set, where they both landed roles. Pauletta already had her eyes on Denzel, but the storyline did not have scenes of them together. When the camera stopped rolling, they never spoke.

    Six months later, the pair happened to be at the same party, and when the conversation started, it never stopped. Less than 24 hours later, fate played a significant part in bringing them together again.

    Pauletta and Denzel both attended a play without knowing each one was there. The actor came when the play began and quietly took his seat to enjoy the performance. When the lights switched on during the intermission, the duo was shocked to be sitting beside each other.

    The same evening, Pauletta invited Denzel to come to the cast party with her friends. Pauletta was ready to take the subway, but Denzel stopped her and offered that they take a cab instead. “I like his style,” she thought at that time.

    Denzel Washington and Pauletta Washington together at the "Courage Under Fire" Los Angeles Premiere at The Academy in Beverly Hills, California, United States. | Source: Getty Images

    However, the supposedly romantic car ride turned into Denzel’s nightmare as the cab ride exceeded his capacity to shoulder the fare. He recalled:

    “I was burning a hole in that meter with my eyes. I kept saying, ‘How far did you say that party was?’”

    Eventually, Denzel had to tell Pauletta the truth that he did not have enough money to pay for the cab ride he offered. “I thought, ‘There goes my food money for the next week,’” Pauletta quipped. “But – I still like his style.” Everything between them changed since that beautiful evening.

    Denzel found himself attracted to Pauletta, who was looking for gigs in different off-Broadway productions. His mom also approved of Pauletta and liked her enough to invite her to move in with them while the couple struggled to make their names in Hollywood.

    Denzel and Pauletta’s relationship was even more pure and special because they fell in love when they were not yet rich and famous. Instead, they supported each other to get to where they are today.


    It only took a few years before the pair tied the knot in Pauletta’s hometown, Newton, South Carolina. However, it did not come easy for Denzel to get his partner’s sweet yes. In a previous interview, Denzel revealed that he proposed twice only to hear Pauletta decline.

    It wasn’t until his third try that she accepted his proposal and got married. They later welcomed four beautiful children, John David, Katia, and twins Olivia and Malcolm, who grew up in a family-centered home and with parents who loved and prioritized their needs.

    Malcolm Washington, Katia Washington, Pauletta Washington, and Denzel Washington during the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Denzel Washington at Dolby Theatre on June 06, 2019 in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

    However, Denzel and Pauletta still had to work hard to make ends meet. As celebrities, they knew the impact it would have on their children, so they tried as much to lessen the pressures on their kids.

    The doting parents believe their stable family resulted from having a solid faith. “Just be honest, work hard, and have faith,” the “Man on Fire” star said. He continued:

    “I used to think that what I did for a living – acting – was my life, but when we had that first child, acting became making a living. The child was life.”

    Pauletta’s upbringing may have played a role in how they saw the importance of family. According to Denzel, his wife grew up close to her family.

    “The kind where everybody comes to the airport to see you off,” he explained. “They’re there on the runway with the ice cooler, the collared greens, and the chicken and potato salad, and when it’s time to leave, everybody’s crying, waving at the plane till they can’t see it anymore.”

    Aside from their close-knit family, Denzel and Pauletta credit their mutual respect for each other for the success of their relationship. Pauletta likes how open she and her husband are to each other and how there are no off-limit topics in their conversations.

    Denzel Washington and Pauletta Washington during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

    “His intelligence, his special qualities as a father, and the way he can take a negative and turn it into a positive” are just some of the things the actress loves about Denzel.

    On the other hand, he admires her sense of humor, which is similar to his, and her strength. He credits his wife for turning their house into a home and raising their kids well. Denzel and Pauletta’s relationship also proudly withstood the pressures of Hollywood to have the perfect marriage.

    Unfortunately, Pauletta had to sacrifice her career to be a full-time mother and wife – a decision she never regretted. She considered her family the main priority and the most important thing in her life that would still be there even if fame was gone.

    “She has done the heavy lifting,” Denzel said. “She has been the consistent one. She has given the daily religious instruction. She was the one taking them to school.” Nevertheless, she remained supportive of Denzel and never grew jealous of his success because she was a stepping stone for him to have that freedom.

    Behind the scenes, Pauletta keeps Denzel grounded and lets him do household chores as well, such as taking the trash out and taking care of the kids. She is, however, in charge of the kitchen and likes cooking for her family and friends.

    The couple happily celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary on June 25, 2022, making them one of the long-lasting marriages in Hollywood.

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