John David Washington on how important his mom has been to his life

John David Washington, the breakout star of Spike Lee’s new film “BlacKkKlansman,” is often asked about what it was like growing up the son of Hollywood icon Denzel Washington.

But the young actor wants to make sure his mother, Pauletta, an esteemed actress and pianist, gets credit too. His powerful shoutout in his recent interview with TODAY’s Craig Melvin has started to go viral.

John David Washington’s words about his mom Pauletta are so powerful


In the interview, Melvin started to ask about starting out in show business with Denzel as his dad, but Washington gently interrupted to say he’d also been raised by Pauletta.

John David Washington
John David Washington with mom Pauletta and dad Denzel 2010 outside Graumnn’s Chinese Theater.FilmMagic

“My father taught me to hunt; my mother taught me to love,” he said.

He also noted that when his parents married in 1983, Pauletta was a “great artist,” as an actress and classically-trained pianist who attended The Julliard School.

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“She was earning more money than he was when they married,” he revealed. “Before they got married she was on Broadway working. She paid for their first date; she paid the bill; she paid the cab ride.”

Those comments resonated on social media, with stars praising the younger Washington, 34, for ensuring his mom got a shoutout, too. Jada Pinkett Smith kicked things off with this post on Instagram over the weekend:

A son and his love for his mother. “My father taught me how to hunt, my mother taught me how to love” @JohnDavidWashington . Check out @BlacKkKlansman this weekend!

A post shared by Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapinkettsmith) on

Octavia Spencer jumped in next:

This just made me cry like a baby. That’s right @johndavidwashington honor thy father AND thy mother @ettappw You are born of kings and queens. #Denzel #Pauletta #JD

A post shared by Octavia Spencer (@octaviaspencer) on

And Tina Knowles, Beyonce’s mom, also had a few words:

So glad Octavia posted this, i have been trying to get it off of Youtube for two weeks�� (I am technically challenged you know) I love how John David reps hard for his mom! Just warms my heart. Pauletta is an exceptional entertainer, wife and mother. Today we salute you Pauletta❤️❤️

A post shared by Tina Knowles (@mstinalawson) on

Denzel and Pauletta married in 1983 and have four children. Pauletta has had numerous acting roles, including appearing in Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It” TV series.

She also performed the song “It’s In Your Eyes” on the “Philadelphia” soundtrack; her husband co-starred in the 1993 film.

John David Washington
Washington stars with Laura Harrier in “BlacKkKlansman.”Courtesy Everet

“I learned a lot from her,” he told Melvin in their interview.

Of that, we have absolutely no doubt.

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