The 64-year-old actor spoke about the "40 years of sacrifice.40 years of forgiveness" during his emotional speech.
It wouldn't be wrong to say that most celebrity marriages often don't last for long. While they don't live up to the vow "til death do us part", there are some who are lucky enough to share a home filled with love and wonderful memories with "the one." One such Hollywood couples who definitely make this list is Denzel Washington and his wife Pauletta. The Oscar-winning actor is acutely aware that his wife is the "most important person in my life", and when he was being honored with the American Film Institute’s life achievement award on June 7, he took the opportunity to let everyone know exactly that.
According to a report by PEOPLE, the 64-year-old actor shared an emotional speech and commended his wife of 40 years who attended the event along with their 28-year-old son Malcom and 31-year-old Katia Washington. The actor reportedly quipped that both of them were only "nine when we got together" and continued how this childhood love endured the test of time and culminated into a successful marriage. "40 years of sacrifice. 40 years of forgiveness. She taught me about faith, spirituality, love, real love, unwavering love, in spite of myself," he said.
He even admitted that he could not survive without his wife. "I would not be alive without Pauletta Washington," he said quite emotionally. "I wouldn’t survive." Praising his spouse's many talents, he stated that 68-year-old Pauletta was a "great" singer and musician pointing to the fact that she graduated from Julliard. He urged the crowd present there to "stand up" and applaud his wife for these achievements because if it were not for her, he wouldn't be where he was.
Pauletta who was sitting right next to Julia Roberts couldn't help but smile out of pride and joy. She then stood up while placing her hands on her heart as she locked eyes with her soulmate who was standing on the stage. In the due course of the touching speech, he also remembered to give a special shoutout to his children and referred to them as their "greatest production." Echoing the heartfelt speech he gave on stage, the actor expressed how much Pauletta’s support meant to him while walking the red carpet reports PEOPLE.
This was not the first time Washington has sung praises for his wife. A few years ago, when the lovely couple was all set to celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary, the actor told the outlet, "I wouldn’t know what it would mean not to have her by my side." The Equalizer star jokingly revealed the secret to their long-lasting marriage last year during an interview saying, "What pops into my head: security, food, a beautiful home." On a rather serious note, he said, "The difference between a house and a home, it’s a big difference. You can buy a house, but that doesn’t make it a home – and not to say a man can’t make a home a home, but 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."
In the August issue of Ebony magazine back in 2013, Pauletta shared the secret to their marriage. "There’s no magical mystery to [staying together] ... We go through ups and downs like any couple," she told Shirley Henderson. Speaking about the importance of stability in a marriage she said, "I live with this man. I see the down part. I see the sad part. I see every part. He has and knows he has that stability in me as his wife. That gives him strength, regardless of if he misuses it. I can’t dwell on that. But I do know that gives him a great platform to go and fly."
As the event proceeded, several co-actors and friends of Washington took the stage to deliver a heartfelt tribute addressed to him. This also included Julia Roberts who starred with him in 1993 movie The Pelican Brief. "I met Denzel Washington over half of my life ago," she recalled. "Working with Denzel, I had really never seen anything like it, honestly. It was like working as I imagined, with wheels. People screaming, women fainting in the street. I am amazed that I was never trampled in the crowds."
Roberts also had something to say about Pauletta. "But what I remember so well as meeting Pauletta and all your kids and seeing how you valued your family, your home life above all else," she continued. "I know it takes a lot of hard work but you and Pauletta made it look like a dream to me, and now I live my life with those same values. The two of you inspired me then and continue to inspire me to this day."