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The first chapter of Denzel Washington and Pauletta Washington’s love story began on a movie set, so it seemed fated that the actors would have four children who are all involved in the entertainment industry.
The 68-year-old saw his future wife for the first time when they both worked on the television movie “Wilma,” his first role, in 1977. They crossed paths, but they didn’t officially meet until a year later when they attended the same party, he recalled during a 2015 interview on “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”
Soon after, they ran into each other again at a play and they started dating. When the “Training Day” actor stopped by “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in 2017, he shared that Pauletta Washington, 73, paid for their cab on their first date when he couldn’t afford it.
They fell in love as their careers started to take off and tied the knot in 1983. The pair share four children together: John David, 39, Katia, 35, and twins Malcolm and Olivia, 32. All four children have followed in their parents’ footsteps and work behind the scenes as producers and/or in front of the camera as actors.
Denzel Washington spoke about the advice he gave his children when they decided to pursue careers in film and television during an appearance on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna in January 2022.
“I had Olivia audition for me … and I told her, ‘No. 1, you’re very good. But it’s going to be tough for you.’ You know, (I) just tried to be honest with them about the business.”
Over the past few years, each of Denzel and Paulette Washington’s children have become rising stars in Hollywood. Read on to learn more about the couple’s four children.
John David Washington was bit by the acting bug at a young age. He briefly appeared in his father’s movies “Malcolm X” and “Devil in a Blue Dress,” but focused on football as a young man.
He signed with the Rams in 2006, when they were previously based in St. Louis, and was a member of the team’s practice squad for two seasons. He then played in the United Football League for a few years.
Putting his football career behind him, he revisited his love for acting and landed a starring role alongside Dwayne Johnson in the series “Ballers.” In an interview with ESPN to promote the show, John David Washington spoke about the reaction from other players.
"After I would score a touchdown, they'd go, 'Good run. Your Daddy's the man.' It was very confusing. Like, is that supposed to anger me? Because that's just going to fuel me even more to keep doing better," he said with a laugh. "It was an interesting trash-talking experience for me."
In 2018, he reunited with “Malcolm X” director Spike Lee for “BlacKkKlansman,” a role that proved John David Washington could lead a film. He earned a Golden Globe nomination for best performance by an actor in a motion picture drama.
He recalled celebrating the news with his parents when he heard about the Golden Globe nod.
“My father woke me up. He’s like, ‘It’s time, it’s time, let’s go!’” he shared in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 2018. “We caught it on NBC. We obviously cheered when we heard Adam (Driver’s) name and Spike (Lee’s) name. And then it happened; I was overjoyed.”
He continued, “My dad and I embraced each other so tightly. My mom is on the way to Chicago to audition for ‘Hamlet,’ so we called her and had a prayer session and we were crying.”
Since then, John David Washington has worked with acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan on “Tenet” and co-starred with Zendaya in the drama “Malcolm & Marie.” On Sept. 29, his film “The Creator,” an action movie about the future of artificial intelligence, hit theaters.
Next, John David Washington will collaborate with his Academy Award-winning dad a Netflix adaptation of August Wilson’s play “The Piano Lesson.” Deadline reported in April that the production will be a family affair as John David Washington will star and Denzel Washington will serve as producer. Meanwhile, brother Malcolm Washington will make his feature directorial and screenwriting debut and sister Katia Washington will be an executive producer.
Denzel and Paulette Washington’s oldest daughter has been a producer for over a decade. Katia Washington first gained experience in the industry after working on the set of Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” in 2012 as a production assistant.
Two years later, she served as an assistant to producers Todd Black and David J. Bloomfield on her father’s film “The Equalizer.” Katia Washington moved up the ranks and was hired as an associate producer on another one of Denzel Washington’s critically-acclaimed movies, “Fences.”
Katia Washington has also teamed up with her siblings on projects. She worked as co-executive producer on John David Washington’s movie “Malcolm & Marie” and in 2022, she was an executive producer on the movie “Breaking,” which starred younger sister Olivia Washington.
Denzel and Paulette Washington’s youngest son started out as a production assistant on Jon Favreau’s 2014 film “Chef.”
Like some of his other siblings, Lee helped him launch his producing career by hiring Malcolm Washington to be his assistant on the Netflix series “She’s Gotta Have It.” The job allowed him to work on set with his mom, who had a recurring role on the show. Twin sister Olivia Washington also appeared on “She’s Gotta Have It” for a couple episodes.
Malcolm Washington directing his brother and other stars, like Samuel L. Jackson and Corey Hawkins, in “The Piano Lesson” will be a major step in his career.
Like her eldest brother, Olivia Washington also inherited her parents’ acting skills. She booked her first role in Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” in 2013 before working with the filmmaker and television producer again on his show “Empire.”
In the following years, she landed parts in other popular shows, like “Mr. Robot” and “Chicago P.D.” Olivia Washington most recently starred in the Amazon Prime Video series “I’m a Virgo,” which was released in June.
Olivia Washington has acted alongside her dad, too. She had a part in his 2021 crime drama “The Little Things,” which also starred Rami Malek and Jared Leto. Then, she reunited with Denzel Washington in “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and watched him deliver a performance worthy of an Academy Award nomination.
While promoting “The Little Things” in January 2021, Denzel Washington spoke to “Access Hollywood” about his children. In the interview, he reacted to John David Washington praising him for being named one of the 25 greatest actors of the 21st century by The New York Times.
The two-time Oscar winner became emotional after hearing his son call him “one of the greatest to ever do it.”
“Wow, I’m speechless,” Denzel Washington said. He then went on to gush about Olivia Washington.
“Watch out for his sister. His sister’s a great actor,” he said.
This article was originally published on TODAY.com