A year after Denzel and Pauletta got married, the couple welcomed their first child, John David Washington, on 28 July, 1984. At just 7 years old, John David landed his first acting role as a Harlem student in his father's hit film "Malcolm X." Although John David loved being on set, he stopped acting soon after because he didn't want to constantly be compared to his father. Instead, he chose to attend Moorehouse College and play football.
After graduating in 2006, John David became a professional football player by signing with the St. Louis Rams before playing for Germany's Rhein Fire the following year. In 2009, John David joined the United Football League's California Redwoods and stayed with the team until it abruptly shut down in 2012.
In an October 2022 interview with CBS News, John David said he chose football over acting in hopes that he could make a name for himself apart from his family. "Even though I was hiding what I really wanted to do, it gave me an identity," he said. "My mother is an extremely talented artist, and my father is one of the greatest of all time. He's my favourite actor. That was intimidating."
However, John David soon realised that no matter what career path he chose, people would always connect him to his famous parents. "I read the Atlanta Journal Constitution. I think it was my freshman year, and I had a great game, and [they wrote], 'Denzel's son runs for as many yards and as many touchdowns.' I realised then it was inescapable," he said.
So after he ruptured his Achilles tendon, John David decided to follow his heart and give acting another try. The risk proved to be well worth it. In 2015, he joined the main cast of "Ballers" as Ricky Jerret, marking his first major acting role. Since then, he's starred in huge films like "BlacKkKlansman," "Malcolm & Marie," and "Amsterdam." In 2022, John David also made his Broadway debut in August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson."