10 Celebrity Romances The Show The Black Love is Alive and Strong
By: Princess Dominiko
The term “black love” has gained traction in the past few years, due to the increasing desire for black people to not only date within their race but to truly and deeply love their blackness. However, despite the growing popularity of the idea of “black love,” a tension still exists within the community for the increasing attention major media outlets put on black celebrities who consistently date outside their race and insult the black experience.
Thus, in light of the lacking representation of black love, we will present to you five new black celebrity couples that are thriving, four older, black celebrity couples that are still going strong to this day, and one black celebrity couple that shows us that you can find love at any time in life:
10. Teyana Taylor and Iman Shumpert, (m. 2016)
The 31-year-old Trinidadian singer and actress Teyana Taylor has experienced a considerable amount of tragedy in her life, including suffering from, Cholestasis, a liver disease, which makes pregnancies high risk, and also undergoing emergency surgery to biopsy potentially cancerous lumps in her breasts. However, through these trials, her husband, free-agent NBA point guard, Iman Shumpert, continued to care for her and prioritized her health above everything. When speaking on her surgery, the basketball player said, “I’m going to miss my wife, but for the first 48 hours, she can’t have any sort of contact. She’s got to have bed rest.”
The singer also remained supportive and trusting of her husband when rumors of an alleged affair with Dancing With The Stars dancer Daniella Karagach hit news everywhere, “I’m too secure in my s–t to be worrying about that. We have to do movies and TV shows, and I have a love interest and stuff like that — it’s just part of the job. We get our job done and we keep it pushing. And I think that’s the part that we love about each other the most because we do our job and we keep it pushing.” Thus, despite the naysayers, Taylor didn’t lose sight of the truth of the matter, which is that chemistry is necessary for dancing; she also kept her love flowing for her husband.
The couple has remained devoted to one for the past 8 years, and we expect them to continue staying together through thick and thin, as they’ve done before.
9. Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade (m.2014)
While Gabrielle Union’s character Mary Jane on BET’s Being Mary Jane may have issues witWhile Gabrielle Union’s character Mary Jane on BET’s Being Mary Jane may have issues with love,the 49-year-old actress has no such trouble with her husband and 40-year-old NBA star, Dwyane Wade. Their love, though, starting under unusual circumstances–with both meeting as co-host of a super bowl party, while Wade was still married to his then-wife, Siohvaughn Funches (he filed for divorce from her four months after their meeting), and Gabrielle coming out of a recent divorce from NFL running back, Chris Howard–was one that seemed meant to be.
Funches seemed to recognize the chemistry between the two as well, particularly after Union attended Dwyane’s “Summer Grove” charity event in Miami three years later. During this time, Wade and Funches were fresh from their divorce, so she ended up hitting them both up, with lawsuits, with Union receiving one for causing her “emotional distress.” However, it was later dismissed, when Union proved that she was not involved with Wade at the time.
Despite their rocky start, the basketball star and actress now share a family with four of the children that Wade shares with Funches and one child of their own.
8. Mahershala Ali and Amatus Sami-Karim (m. 2013)
Though not one of the older couples on this list, Mahershala Ali and Amatus Sami-Kari share a lot of wisdom. For instance, Ali has frequently advocated improving the compensation and conditions for Oakland teachers. While Sami-Karim has promoted women’s rights as well as the rights of minorities.
However, before they were changing the world, the two met 17 years ago, while they were studying at the highly acclaimed Tisch School of the Arts. While there, Sami-Karim stood out to her future husband, who later recalled that he found her “extraordinarily intelligent…about the right things, spiritually grounded, a beautiful person.” The spiritually-minded Sami-Karim also motivated the famed actor to convert to her Islamic religion, by bringing him to a mosque to attend a prayer service. Ali described the experience as provocative, saying “I just had this really strong response where this prayer is resonating in my body, and I’m, like, crying…Long story short, I converted that day.”
Sami-Karim continues to be a positive influence on the actor’s life, as they both have collaborated on a number of art projects, including the film documentary We Are the Dream: the Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest, where they both served as executive producers executive producers.
7. Chris Paul and Jada Paul (m. 2011)
The 36-year-old Phoenix Suns player, Chris Paul (nicknamed “CP3”), will probably be remembered for days to come as one of the greatest point guards to ever play in the NBA. He has made a positive impact on all 3 teams he’s been on, ranking 7th in NBA history for 9,653 assists and 2,233 steals. Along the way in his distinguished career, his wife, Jada Crawley has remained by his side.
Jada Crawley was born and raised in North Carolina and attended the same high school as her eventual husband. However, despite their proximity to each other, the couple didn’t officially meet until college, at a Wake Forest University basketball game.
Surprisingly, Crawley took the initiative and made the first move on her husband, showing that he wasn’t the only one that had gam in their relationship. They spent their first date watching black love on the big screen with Nick Cannon and Christina Milan’s hit Love Don’t Cost a Thing. And unlike many of the other couples on this list, they didn’t have to experience tragedy or turbulence to strengthen their love, but rather, they seemingly enjoyed the simple; yet, beautiful moments they shared.
They have been married for the past 11 years and share 2 kids, named Camryn and Chris.
6. Ayesha and Steph Curry, (m. 2011)
Though one of the younger couples on this list, the NBA couple have been together for as long as many of the older couples in black Hollywood. Their story started 18 years ago–before Bumble and ghosting was a thing–when love was just sweet and simple.
Curry was 15 years old when he first spotted 14-year-old Ayesha at a church in North Carolina. And while it was not love at first sight for the two, they have since admitted that they held a soft spot for each other.
Fast-forward a few years, and the Golden State Warriors player finally got the opportunity to go after the then-aspiring actress, while on a trip to Los Angeles, where she was living. During the visit, Stephen and Ayesha spent the day together as friends, but it later turned into something more. And that something more transformed into their marriage in July of 2011, where 22-year-old Ayesha walked down the aisle to meet her 23-year-old husband. Despite being young newlyweds, Curry said that “I knew I had found the right woman and I wanted to start a life with her.”
5. Viola Davis and Julius Tenon (m. 2003)
It seems that finding love later in life is possible, particularly with this enchanting couple, Viola Davis and Julius Tenon. Prior to her marriage in 2003, the How to Get Away With Murder alum was never publicly attached to any other actors or actresses, but rather she had been waiting for a man like Julius Tenon since she gained stardom in 1996.
In an interview with Essence, she revealed that prayed for “a big black man from the South who looked like a football player,” and who was also “emotionally available, someone who was older, someone who maybe had a family before.” Her prayers were seemingly answered when the two actors met in LA on the set of the medical drama series City of Angels.
Tenon, himself, recounted the meeting in an interview with ENews, “I just overheard her talking to a girl and found her saying, ‘I don’t like L.A. I don’t know anybody here.’ Just kind of complaining. And I was dating a girl who was a little bit of a monster and I was kinda like, ‘Oh, wow. She seems like a nice lady, she doesn’t know anybody. I’m kind of ready to meet somebody else, so at the end of the day, I gave her my card.”
Davis was definitely lucky that she decided to reveal her troubles the day Tenon was on set, since after getting his business card, Davis’ life changed for the better, “Anxiety went away, fear went away. He just made my life better.”
4. Will and Jada Pinkett Smith (m.1997)
Though, an admittedly unusual choice for this list, since Will and Jada still seem to be in their “situationship” phase and insist upon oversharing every private detail of their life, we do have to give the couple props for remaining together through the 2020 season of divorces. It was during this time while speaking on her popular Facebook Watch show, Red Table Talk, that Pinkett Smith candidly admitted to her and Will’s prior separation, during which she had a romantic relationship with her son, Jaden, then 25-year-old friend, August Alsina.
While being confronted with the news, Smith looked admittedly and intensely dejected, as he looked his wife in the eyes with a grim expression. And yet, in spite of the devastating news, it seemed that brutal honesty and a barrage of tongue-in-cheek, Urban Dictionary-esque language was what was required to heal their relationship.
Their transparency in all matters of their relationship continues to this day, with Jada’s newest topic being that she and Will sometimes fail to connect in the bedroom, “I think you expect your partner to know [what you need], especially when it comes to sex. It’s like, ‘Well if you love me, you should know. If you love me, you should read my mind.’ That’s a huge pitfall.” Though she admits that the Bad Boys 2 actor sometimes doesn’t meet her sexual expectations, she does note that it’s important that she remains accountable as well and needs to communicate her feelings to her husband to keep their relationship strong.
In recognition of what we’ve heard of their private lives from the past two years, we can faithfully say that Will and Jada Pinkette Smith have a surprisingly human relationship, with a host of messiness and awkward talks, but most importantly, love and understanding.
3. Earlitha ‘Cookie’ Kelly and Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, (m. 1992)
Like Ayesha and Steph Curry, Earlitha Kelly and Magic Johnson go way, way back.They were college sweethearts at Michigan State University, with Johnson being in the class of 1979. They married 12 years later in 1991 with a small ceremony in Lansing, Michigan. And all was seemingly going well for the two, until 2 months later when Magic Johnson revealed his HIV diagnosis.
In a 2016 interview with Robin Roberts for Good Morning America, Kelly recalls the tragic event, “It scared me to death. I mean, I fell to my knees; we both fell on our knees and we started crying.” And although such news back then would have ended most relationships (with HIV being relatively unknown back then and derisively termed the ‘gay disease”), Kelly stood beside her new husband.
However, their difficulties soon seemed to be just starting, since Kelly had also recently found out she was pregnant with their first child, E.J. (now 24 years old), “I was scared to death about the baby. I mean, I had just found out I was pregnant so it was early in the pregnancy.” The news came 10 days later that since she was negative, the baby would also be HIV negative and would not suffer so early on.
The couple today have turned their strife into a story of love and how one can overcome adversity with understanding and respect, as they both work to advocate for HIV awareness.
2. Pauletta and Denzel Washington (m.1983)
Coming at number two on our list, this old, Hollywood It couple shows what it takes to make love last. Their romance began six decades ago when they met on the set of Wilma in 1977. Their friendship blossomed in the following year when they reconnected at a party, and eventually, the duo began dating. After more than five years together with little to no hiccups, Denzel and Pauletta married in 1983 and later had five children.
In a 2018 interview with People, the actor spoke on a number of details of their relationship, with one being that the secret to keeping his relationship strong is that he does what he’s “told ” and keeps “[his] mouth shut.” But it truly seems that the ingredient to a healthy, enduring relationship like theirs is humor and seeing the good in one another. For instance, when asked his favorite things about Pauletta, Denzel said, “There are too many things!”
However, the Equalizer star later revealed the qualities that popped “into” his head: “Security, food, a beautiful home … 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.” With recognizing such wholesome qualities in his wife, it seems as if love is not lacking in the Washington household.
1. Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee (m. 1963)
Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee epitomize black Hollywood. The two first met on the set of Robert Ardrey’s 1946 play Jeb. And while their play flopped, their relationship flourished, and they eventually married in 1948.
During their marriage, they continued to act beside each other in theater and on-screen in a number of acclaimed plays and movies, including the original 1959 production of “A Raisin in the Sun” and in Sidney Poitier’s 1950, the racial melodrama “No Way Out.” But what’s most notable about their collaborative efforts is the teamwork on the frontlines of social activism.
In their joint autobiography published in 2000, With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together, they recall their tireless fight against Senator Joseph McCarthy’s hunt for Communists and their continuous efforts on behalf of voting rights and civil rights. “We need to make the changes, do the revolutions and make things right that will make it easier for our children and grandchildren,” says Dee. Seemingly their love for each other did not only make their lives better, but it made the lives of all black children and grandchildren’s lives better.
In the end, they were not only together in their pursuit of art and social justice, but also in death, when they died within months of each other in 2005. They are survived by their children, Guy Davis, Nora Day, and Hasna Muhammad Davis.
As shown in this list, black love, like any other love, is messy and turbulent, but it is also beautiful and transformative. It may be difficult to find in the pages of a magazine or in your personal life, but it is there if you’re ready to take on both the good and bad parts of it.