“I’m sure he has no idea. It was random,” Chadwick Boseman said in an interview with Rolling Stone about Denzel Washington. That was when the 41-year-old star of Black Panther revealed that Washington had paid for him to study at Oxford for a summer while he was attending Howard University. Knowing how big of an opportunity that was, and how successful Boseman has been since he was given the opportunity, at the time of that interview, the star said he couldn’t wait to meet the legendary actor to thank him in person. “I’ve been waiting to meet him, so I can tell him,” he said.
In a recent interview with Jimmy Fallon, Boseman said he finally had his chance. But first, a little bit of background in the actor’s own words.
“I did an exchange while at was Howard, over the summer. A group of us from Howard did it,” he told Fallon. “Phylicia Rashad, she basically taught a class once a week while we were at Howard, and she wanted us to do this exchange. I didn’t have money to pay for this so she got a few of her friends together and they paid for us to go.”
Boseman said that he found out Washington was a benefactor for him after the trip had concluded. To say it was a shock would be an understatement.
“I didn’t know at first,” he said. “I’ve basically been holding this secret my whole career. When I came back, I got a beneficiary letter and it said, ‘Denzel Washington paid for you.’ And I was like ‘What?!'”
After sharing this story for the first time with Rolling Stone, as luck would have it, Boseman had the chance to meet Washington at the Black Panther premiere before the article came out, so the news didn’t have to come out in the press before Boseman had the chance to thank him privately. Washington, always modest, and having paid for other star students to go (including This Is Us star Susan Kelechi Watson) responded to Boseman’s gratitude with humor.
“He was like, ‘I haven’t met you yet,'” Boseman recounted. “And I said, ‘I gotta tell you something. You paid for me to go to school.’ He said, ‘So that’s why I’m here? You owe me money! I came to collect.'”