Children who have famous parents often find it difficult to connect with their peers. Not just because of the celebrity status they’ve been born into, but because people will often try to take advantage of them in order to gain access to their parents or to learn family secrets. Denzel Washington is one of the most celebrated actors, well…ever…and he’s managed to live a life both immersed in and removed from the spotlight. Denzel and his wife Pauletta Washington have been happily married for 37 years and share four children together, and while they’ve attempted to create a sense of normalcy for their tribe, it hasn’t always been an easy road for their kids.

Denzel Washington, John David Washington
Handout / Getty Images

John David Washington, 36, spoke with Mr. Porter about his father’s talents influencing his decision to become an entertainer. He was bit by the acting bug before he was 10 and shared that he would marvel at his father on-screen. However, by the time he became a teenager, things shifted because he feared being judged by the industry.

“I was related to Denzel Washington,” said Washington. “I saw how people changed when they found out who my father was. I used to lie, saying he was a construction worker or in jail, just to have some sense of normalcy. I felt like there was no way people would take me seriously, even if I was good. They would always judge me. So I hid who my father was. I guess I was protecting myself.”

After graduating from Morehouse College, Washington was signed to the St. Louis Rams, but his NFL career was brief. He’s continued on with his acting career and has been featured in BlacKkKlansmanBallers, and most recently, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet.

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