Outside of what we’ve seen them do on screen, we don’t know all that much about the personal lives of actors Jazmyn Simon and Dulé Hill.
We know they met on the set of “Ballers,” got married in a beautiful ceremony in Antigua, and then welcomed their now 1-year-old son Levi. You may have seen them renovate their home on Netflix’s “Styling Hollywood.” And now they’re in a movie together Psych 2.
But we wanted to know a little bit more about them as a couple.
So we were happy to have the opportunity to speak with them about quite a few things including their relationship, how they’re explaining the current racial tensions with a teenage daughter, and even Jazmyn’s battle with prenatal sickness and depression.
They’re way more than just pretty pictures.
Check out our conversation below.
MadameNoire: What have you guys learned about yourselves as a couple during quarantine?
Jazmyn: I think that we learned that we can spend 24 hours a day with one another and not kill each other. That is a blessing. We have always spent time together. Since we got together, we always made it a priority to be together. But I don’t think either one of us thought we would have a 15-year-old and a 10 month old and we would be relegated to spending 24/7 in our house together. But I will say that I like him and love him just as much today as I did in March.
So we are winning.
Dulé: I might irritate her a little bit more than normally but that’s to be expected.
MN: How has it been parenting a teenager and an infant at the same time?
Dulé: I would say they have different needs so-to a certain extent- you have to compartmentalize a little bit. The needs that Kennedy has a 15-year-old is completely different than the needs Levi has turning a 15-month old. Kennedy, especially during the summertime, she may not wake up until noon or after noon. Levi, at 7’o clock in the morning, is like come on. Let’s go. The day’s starting.
I think the main thing is just being able to balance the time and knowing where it’s needed. For instance, during the day, Levi takes up so much of our time and attention because of the age that he is. But once he goes to sleep, we make sure that the three of us, as a family, get a chance to do something that’s a little more mature, whether that’s watching our favorite program or playing Uno. We try to check in and make sure that Kennedy is okay in the midst of what’s going on and her emotional needs.
It’s about making sure we stay alert and engaged for both of our kids, collectively but also separately.
Jazmyn: I’ll add that having a 14-year age gap has benefitted us in a lot of ways because she loves him so much and she’s like a mini mom for him. When our hands are full doing something else, she steps right in and she’ll play with him or she’ll feed him. So, there is a benefit of having an extra pair of mature hands to help us with Levi. And like Dulé said, their needs are so different, we don’t ever feel overwhelmed with the two of them. One needs a lot of mental support and one needs a lot of physical support.
The only thing that breaks my heart is that she’s going to college in two years and it’s going to be so hard for all of us because he’s so attached to her. He’ll go to her room and knock on her door if she’s not up by a certain time.
It has been more challenging with our daughter Kennedy during the Black Lives Matter protests. It has affected her in a major way. I think in some ways we have protected her and shielded her from a lot of the injustices of this country and this world, just by nature of our business and our privilege as two actors. We send her to really great schools. And she has all these really great opportunities that aren’t always available to children of color, to Black girls.
When George Floyd died, Dulé and I sat her on the couch and asked her how she felt about it. And she kind of just broke down. Once she sat for one second to think about what’s going on. And I’m telling you since then, we’ve got a little Angela Davis on our hands. She turned on her activism and she stands up for what she believes. And it’s a very powerful thing to see a young girl turn into a young woman. We’ve been able to see that in all of its fullness. She’s embracing being a beautiful Black girl in a society that doesn’t always see her as she is.
She goes to a predominately white school—one of the best in the country academic wise. But she has seen her friends show colors that she didn’t know that they had. That has been challenging for her but I feel like it was better for her to realize it now, in the safety and comfort of our home, than getting to college and finding out without us being there. So we’re just working through it like all Black parents have to do.
MN: Jazmyn, I was on your Instagram preparing for this interview and I saw you writing about breastfeeding and the concern that you would have had to go back to work too soon and end that experience before you both were ready. How did you navigate that and how did being quarantined help that process.
Jazmyn: When I had him, I had just finished season one of “Raising Dion.” Then we shot Psych The Movie 2 when I was fully nine months pregnant. I shot “Ballers” a week before I had him. So I was like, I’m going to take this time and I’m going to nurse him. But then towards the end, I got so worried that I wasn’t going to be able to continue to nurse him. And God was like, ‘Girl, if you don’t sit down somewhere.’ You have no idea that coronavirus is going to make you—you’re going to be in the house.
So the one silver lining from COVID was my parenting. I didn’t have to worry about going back to work. I’m not back to work. The show that I’m currently on shoots in Atlanta and it’s a complete hot mess, disaster down there.
I was able to nurse Levi for 14 months. And now he’s weaned. But we did it in our time, in a way that felt comfortable for both of us. So that was one of the positive things about coronavirus, I didn’t feel pushed to stop my mothering in the way that I wanted to do it and go back to work, like so many mothers have to do. I’m blessed beyond compare.
But so many mothers are not in that position in this country. They don’t have good maternity leave. When I say good, I mean they don’t get any maternity leave.
And to think that this country is claiming to be the best in the world but we do our mothers, especially our Black mothers, so dirty.
But Levi and I were able to do 14 months and we weaned him off and it was really sad. I cried and cried because it was such a hard thing because I don’t know if I’m going to have another baby. And really, to get personal, I would have continued but I have a familial cholesterol problem so I have to take medication that I’m not allowed to take while breastfeeding him. So I had been off my medication for two years to have him and nurse him.
Otherwise, girl, I would have been in here still nursing the boy. Because he’s still a baby and it’s healthy and it’s natural. And I want my sisters and brothers to know that’s it’s natural and we’re not taught that that’s the right thing to do. We don’t have a lot of role models to say that it’s the right thing to do but it really is. And I really hope that other Black women take the time to learn about breastfeeding if they are physically capable of doing it. Just give it a shot. I think that we should advocate for one another and teach each other what we know.
MN: Jazmyn, I saw that when you were pregnant, you experienced prenatal depression. I was wondering how that experience was for you. And Dulé how you were able to support her through that.
Jazmyn: I had hyperemesis throughout my pregnancy which made me extremely sick. From about six weeks to the minute that I had Levi I would throw up every single day. I was nauseous 24 hours a day. It was horrendous. Being sick—and I was still working—being sick every single day for an extended amount of time, definitely gave me some prenatal depression.
At one point, I was so sick and my husband was in Toronto filming “Suits.” And a lot of times he would call me and I was too weak and too tired to even talk. I would pick up the FaceTime call and shake my head no and just hang up because I had, physically, no energy. Every good thing that my body had, I was giving it to the baby. And I had nothing left for myself. But when you’re so sick, you don’t feel connected to the baby. I did not enjoy my pregnancy except for maybe like two weeks throughout my pregnancy.
I was trying to explain to Dulé how sick I was. They had given me the medication that they give cancer patients to help with the nausea because I was so sick.
Dulé called me one day and we lived in a townhouse at the time. It was three levels and our bedroom was on the second level. And no joking, I said, ‘If I thought I could die, I would jump out of the window but we’re on the second level so I know that I won’t.”
And Dulé just looked at me. He felt so bad for me. The next day I got 15 Amazon shipments. Ginger tea, ginger mint. Anything he thought that could help me. When he was home, he would do his best to take care of me but depression is real. And I don’t want anybody to feel like they have to hide and act like they’re okay, if they’re not, especially during COVID times.
I struggled that I wasn’t going to feel connected to Levi because I mentally removed myself from the pregnancy but as soon as I saw him it was love at first sight.
Dulé: For me, the process really just allowed my heart to go out to caretakers, those whose spouses or loved ones are going through it. You realize the weakness of your humanity. You start to realize, I am just mere man. There was nothing I could do to have my wife feel better. You just have to go through it. So I tried to be there for her in any way that I could comfort her in any way that I can. If she mentioned something, or if I thought of something or if she mentioned something that I thought could help, then I did it.
In the end, all I could do was be there and support. It’s a heartbreaking situation because it’s one of the most magnificent times of our life. We have a child on the way but you cannot really, fully enjoy that process because the person that you love, the person who is making this all possible is going through an unbelievably traumatic valley.
And every day that we made it through, it was one day closer to the finish line. So we were very thankful that we knew there would be a finish line. My heart goes out to those people who there is no finish line in sight.
I’m forever grateful to Jazmyn going through all that she went through to bring him into this world. I never had any clue that women could possibly go through that much struggle.
Jazmyn: One thing that really helped me—and it’s morbid. But I would sit and read other women’s stories about how hard it was for them and I would look at the date and I would do that math. And I would say, ‘This was two years ago. She got through it.’ And it gave me strength to be able to get through because I knew someone had experienced this already and they got through it.
So if this can help anyone with prenatal depression or current depression, just know that you can get through it and you will get through it. You just have to put one foot in front of the other and know that there is somebody—me and other people-praying for you. Because every time I think about what I went through, I actively pray for whoever is going through that now because it is a challenge.
For me, I had a really great support system in my doctors and in my husband. And I stood up for myself. I advocated for myself. From the beginning of my pregnancy, to the minute that I had my son, I said, ‘I know that Black women die at a higher rate than any other woman on this planet during childbirth. You will not kill me. You will listen to me.’
Dulé: People just want to be seen. Just the fact that you see me in the fullness of who I am, gives me strength and allows me to go forward. When you try to condescend or brush off my experience, it makes it that much more difficult to press on through. We need listen to people, understand people and not try to rationalize away their individual experience and trust that if someone is saying something about themselves, they mean it. Period.
Jazmyn: We do need to break that stigma that Black people don’t need therapy or that we don’t do that. We probably need it more than anyone else in this country, in this world. Since the 1500s we’ve been having persecution and struggle so we do need it, 100 percent.
We have trauma that is so deep that we can’t even describe how deep it is or where it is. You can’t be healthy for your children or yourself if you are not well. I got the quadruple whammy because I had a c-section which was physically painful. Then I had postpartum anxiety. I wasn’t depressed after I had him. I was so thrilled with Levi. But I was so anxious that I couldn’t even leave my house. It took me a long time to be able to leave the house with Levi. And then once I felt like I could leave the house, ‘Okay, we’re doing this!’ COVID hit. So I’m like, ‘Awww damn.’
I had resources and it was still hard for me. It was still hard with doctors and therapists. So I hope that people take advantages of the resources that are available to them. And I feel like Black people should be given more resources for mental health. You’re human and you have to get it out sometimes. It’s a lot.
MN: I’m going to wrap up with something lighter. You guys have worked together. You met working together and you’re in the Psych The Movie 2. Do you have established rules for working with one another as husband and wife?
Dulé: Both experiences have been fun and wonderful and pleasant but I do think that when we go to work, we go to work. If I’m on set as an actor and Jazmyn is on set as actor, we were both hired to do our jobs. We both are gifted. We let each other do what we do. We’re husband and wife and we’re still madly in love with each other and everything like that but we still allow each other to allow each other to have our individual creative processes and then we come on home.
Jazmyn: I will say that he is my favorite person to kiss on tv. He is by far my favorite kissing partner. He is my favorite actor. I respect him as an actor and as my husband as well. So when we go to work, I’m in awe. I love to see him work. I love to sit back and watch. But we do keep a certain decorum when we are at work. Because we’re at work and we want to keep it professional and we don’t want to make anybody else uncomfortable.
MN: What about when you have to watch each other act or be romantic with other people? Does that affect you guys?
Dulé: I always say, if I was going to have an issue with my wife kissing somebody else on screen or having to go to work offstage, then I shouldn’t have married an actress. We know what the business is. If that was going to bother me, then I should have married someone else. You have to take someone in the fullness of who they are or don’t take them at all. That’s my philosophy.
Jazmyn: I think also, we’re a very close couple. We’re in constant communication about the things that we do and the things that we want to do. But we also have relationships with our scene partners. Most recently, Dulé was on “Suits” and he had a wife on there, an actress that I really respect and I’ve known for a long time. And I respect her as an actress. They had to kiss and have a relationship and it was great to see because I could see that they’re two phenomenal actors that are together. I would never put him in the situation where I have a long term relationship with someone on tv and my husband didn’t know them. I would never do anything to make him feel uncomfortable. And he would never do anything to make me feel uncomfortable. It’s certain things that we have built into our relationship that carries over into our work. I trust him. He trusts me. There’s no one in this world I love more and what we do at work is just work. And then we sit down and we watch it together, which is the best part.