How Denzel Washington Met His Wife, Pauletta

Celebrity relationships have a reputation for being short-term and easily breakable. When you see Hollywood couples who have been together for ten years or more, they’re viewed as something like an enigma.

But people love a good love story, so seeing a couple like Denzel and Pauletta Washington serves a reminder that these unions do last.

Considered one of Hollywood’s most esteemed actors, Denzel Washington is respected for his work as a performer, producer, and director. He’s also a beloved father and husband behind the scenes. So, how did he meet his wife and how long have they been together?

Denzel and Pauletta Washington
Denzel and Pauletta Washington | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Turner

Denzel and Pauletta Washington met at work

Denzel Washington first met Pauletta Pearson on the set of the TV series, Wilma, in 1977. As she explained in an old interview with Oprah Winfrey, they were re-introduced at the film’s wrap party but the next day is when things kicked off.

Pauletta explained that she went to friend’s play and arrived late, so she quickly took a seat without paying attention to the people around her.

When the lights came up during intermission, she and Denzel found themselves seated next to each other. Fate! They started dating and about five or six years later, were married.

Pauletta Washington is also a performer

Though she doesn’t do as much as acting as her husband, Mrs. Washington has been featured in a number of theater, film, and television roles.

Besides appearing in Wilma alongside her future husband, she’s been in plays on and Broadway, – including 2016’s Autumn – was in Netflix’s She’s Gotta Have It, and is on the soundtrack for Philadelphia, the film that starred Denzel in 1993.

What many fans may not know is that Pauletta Washington is a graduate of Julliard, is a vocalist, and a classically trained pianist. The couple’s eldest son, John David Washington, often credits his mother with guiding his acting career after he made the transition from playing in the NFL.

How long have the Washingtons been married?

The pair still joke about who paid for their first date, but their sense of humor and friendship is part of the reason they’ve stayed together so long.

In interviews, both Denzel and Pauletta have shared that he proposed more than once – three times per Pauletta – and she finally said yes on the third try.

Married since 1983, the Washingtons renewed their vows in 1995 in South Africa with Archbishop Desmond Tutu officiating. This June, they will celebrate their 37th wedding anniversary, and according to the Equalizer actor, there are a few things that make their relationship work.

In a 2018 interview with People, he joked that the secret to the longevity in their marriage is “I do what I’m told. I keep my mouth shut.”

He added that she’s the one who sacrificed for their family and made their house a home, saying:

“You can buy a house, but that doesn’t make it a home – and not to say a man can’t make a home a home, but my wife has made our house a home, and raised these beautiful kids and protected them and sacrificed for them, she did the heavy-lifting.”

Denzel and Pauletta are parents to four now-adult children: John David (35), Katia (32), and twins Malcolm and Olivia (28).