John David Washington Says It Was More Difficult Being Pauletta’s Son Than Denzel’s

August 1, 2018  |  


Ballers star John David Washington will have the chance to star as the lead in a feature film when the Spike Lee joint BlackKklansman comes out on August 10. It will actually be his second Spike Lee joint, as he appeared in Malcolm X as a kid — alongside his father, Denzel. The Oscar winner has starred in four of the director’s films, to his credit.

To promote the film, the 34-year-old actor appeared on Chicago’s WGN and was asked if it was hard growing up with Denzel as his father. He joked that, in fact, it was mom Pauletta who was one tough cookie.

“Is it difficult to be his son? It’s difficult to be Pauletta Washington’s son [laughs],” he said. “I got a lot of whoopings back in the day. I was a very curious kid.”

But in another interview with Great Day Washington, he said that Pauletta actually helped him get where he is in his burgeoning acting career.

“They were very supportive parents in all my endeavors. They have very different approaches on how they give advice,” he said. “My mother is very positive, and encouraging, and nurturing, as a mother should be. She’s my auditioning partner. She says when it’s not good enough, she says when I’m ready. ‘Work on this.’ That kind of thing. She helped me get Ballers. We worked a lot on that. Now the old man, he has a different approach.”

John David said that when it comes to his dad, things were a bit more complicated. Being known as Denzel’s son bred some resentment growing up. And while he always had acting aspirations, he ventured into football, including professional ball, in an effort to make his own name and be his own man. He played from 2006 to 2012.

“It was sort of this rebellious quest of independence,” he said. “I used it as fuel to engineer this football career. As my father started ascending in the business, people around me started to treat me different. Our lives changed. So that anxiety, that sort of resentment, I just funneled it through football. Bash heads. And like they say, it was helmet syndrome. They can’t see my face, it’s just the last name. So it’s like, ‘Who’s that Washington kid out there?'”

But when asked if he misses the sport, John emphatically said no. It had been too hard on his body.

“Ask my knees, ask my achilles,” he said. “I just came off of a sports hernia, football’s parting gift to me. So I don’t miss it.”

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