Denzel Washington's 4 Children Are Successful Actors, Producers, and Directors

Denzel Washington and his wife, Pauletta Washington, have built a beautiful family together over the years. The couple first met on the set of 1977's "Wilma," but it wasn't until a few months later that sparks flew at a mutual friend's party, per People. The stars officially tied the knot in 1983, then welcomed their first child — son John David Washington — in 1984. Two years later, their daughter Katia Washington was born, and in 1991, Denzel and Pauletta became parents of four with the arrival of their twins Malcolm and Olivia Washington.

Once the couple began expanding their family, Pauletta stepped back from acting in order to raise their four children, and the "Malcolm X" star is grateful for everything his wife has done for their family. While accepting the American Film Institute's lifetime achievement award in 2019, Denzel used his speech to thank Pauletta for being their children's primary caretaker. "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," he said.

Despite being busy with his acting career, Denzel has done everything he can to be there for his kids growing up. In a 2010 interview with The Guardian, Denzel said he and Pauletta have raised their kids to value the importance of "church, school, humility, volunteering," and "helping others." Those are lessons the couple have tried to carry on from their own parents.

Although he's won countless awards in his career, Denzel said the most rewarding thing has been to see his children grow up and chase their own dreams. "You have raised your children, and now you live through them. Their success is what's important to me," he told The Guardian. "I'd rather leave this earth as a successful parent than a successful actor."

Ahead, learn more about Denzel and Pauletta's four children.

John David Washington
Getty | Tibrina Hobson

John David Washington

A year after Denzel and Pauletta got married, the couple welcomed their first child, John David Washington, on July 28, 1984. At just 7 years old, John David landed his first acting role as a Harlem student in his father's hit film "Malcolm X." Although John David loved being on set, he stopped acting soon after because he didn't want to constantly be compared to his father. Instead, he chose to attend Moorehouse College and play football.

After graduating in 2006, John David became a professional football player by signing with the St. Louis Rams before playing for Germany's Rhein Fire the following year. In 2009, John David joined the United Football League's California Redwoods and stayed with the team until it abruptly shut down in 2012.

In an October 2022 interview with CBS News, John David said he chose football over acting in hopes that he could make a name for himself apart from his family. "Even though I was hiding what I really wanted to do, it gave me an identity," he said. "My mother is an extremely talented artist, and my father is one of the greatest of all time. He's my favorite actor. That was intimidating."

However, John David soon realized that no matter what career path he chose, people would always connect him to his famous parents. "I read the Atlanta Journal Constitution. I think it was my freshman year, and I had a great game, and [they wrote], 'Denzel's son runs for as many yards and as many touchdowns.' I realized then it was inescapable," he said.

So after he ruptured his Achilles tendon, John David decided to follow his heart and give acting another try. The risk proved to be well worth it. In 2015, he joined the main cast of "Ballers" as Ricky Jerret, marking his first major acting role. Since then, he's starred in huge films like "BlacKkKlansman," "Malcolm & Marie," and "Amsterdam." In 2022, John David also made his Broadway debut in August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson."

Katia Washington
Getty | Matt Winkelmeyer

Katia Washington

Denzel and Pauletta's oldest daughter, Katia Washington, was born on Nov. 27, 1986. According to her LinkedIn page, Katia graduated from Yale University in 2010. Afterward, she followed in her parents' footsteps by working in movies. However, unlike her brother, Katia decided to work behind the scenes instead of in front of the camera.

In 2012, Katia got her start as a production assistant on Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained." At the time, her father revealed the exciting news in an interview with GQ. "She doesn't like me talking about it, but she's working with Tarantino," Denzel announced to the publication. When asked about his and Tarantino's past feud, Denzel said the pair have since "buried the hatchet." "Isn't that interesting how life goes?" Denzel said. "Here we are ten years later, and my daughter's working with him. Life is something."

Following "Django Unchained," Katia also had an assistant job on her father's film "The Equalizer." She's also helped produce "Fences," which Denzel starred in; "Malcolm & Marie"; "Breaking"; and "Sharp Stick."

Malcolm Washington
Getty/ Matt Winkelmeyer

Malcolm Washington

Denzel and Pauletta's second son, Malcolm Washington, was born on April 10, 1991, along with his twin sister, Olivia Washington. Growing up, Malcolm attended a private school in Los Angeles. Despite coming from a famous family, Malcolm told ESPN in February 2010 that he had a "low-key" experience in school. However, that all changed once he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania. "I was thrown into an environment where everybody knew everything about me. There were 10,000 people who knew who I was before I even got here. It's crazy," he said at the time.

During his time at UPenn, Malcolm studied film and played for his school's basketball team. He told ESPN that his parents supported his basketball career by attending his games. "I'm blessed to have a family that cares so much to come across the country to see me play," he said. "I really appreciate it. It really does a lot for me. More than they, or anybody else, might really understand."

Malcolm's family also traveled to Philadelphia to attend his graduation in May 2013. Since then, Malcolm has put his film studies degree to use by working as a director on the short films "Benny Got Shot," "The Last Bookstore," and "Trouble Man." He's also been a producer for "Summer of 17," "The Dispute," and "North Hollywood," as well as an assistant for "Chef" and "She's Gotta Have It."

Olivia Washington
Getty | Amy E. Price

Olivia Washington

Olivia Washington was born on April 10, 1991. In 2015, Olivia told the Amsterdam News that she had a "very normal childhood" growing up and did "after-school activities" like any other kid. "It's interesting because I think people assume that in my house we [discussed] 'the Industry' like at the dinner table or something, but that wasn't the case," she said. Still, Olivia caught the acting bug anyway. "I grew up with an artistic spirit. I was always dancing or playing the piano," she said, adding that she received acting lessons through her dance company, the Eartha Robinson Project.

Although she was a "shy" kid, Olivia said she loved acting because it allowed her to express herself. She realized she wanted to pursue acting professionally with the help of family friend LaTanya Richardson-Jackson, whom Olivia refers to as "aunt." After high school, Olivia attended New York University, graduating in 2013. She received a bachelor's degree in drama from the university's Tisch School of the Arts.

Over the years, Olivia has had roles in TV series like "Empire," "Mr. Robot," and "I'm a Virgo," as well as movies like "The Butler" and "A Holiday in Harlem." While appearing on "Good Morning America" in 2021, Denzel praised his daughter by saying, "Olivia Washington is a great young actress. Very, very, very good young actress." He even joked that she was "coming" for John David's acting career.

More Pictures of Denzel Washington's Kids
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More Pictures of Denzel Washington's Kids