Angela Bassett and Courtney B Vance: From Yale Classmates to Lovers for Life

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Angela Bassett and Courtney B Vance have quite the love story. They’ve been married for a quarter of a century and share 16-year-old twins. The couple seems inseparable, despite their busy work schedules, and have made an indelible mark on society, both in the arts and through philanthropy. So, it may surprise you that they didn’t quite hit it off when they first met! Here’s a look inside the power couple’s 25-year marriage.

Courtney B Vance’s Rise to Stardom

Courtney B Vance was born on March 12, 1960, in Detroit Michigan. His mother was a librarian, and his father was a grocery store manager. After graduating from Detroit Country Day School, Vance went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University. He then went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale.

Before getting into Hollywood, Courtney B Vance was a classically trained actor. While he was pursuing an Ivy League education in fine arts, he did work with the Boston Shakespeare Company. At Yale, he acted with the Yale Repertory Theatre. Vance’s part in the Tony Award-winning play Fences, produced at Yale, landed him a Tony nomination and three prestigious awards. His career had officially begun in a very big way as he continued to star in on- and off-Broadway theatrical productions before getting into film and television.

Over his 40-year career, Vance has starred in over 70 films and TV shows including The Hunt for Red October, The Last Supper, Law & Order, Flashforward, ER, The Closer, American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson, Lovecraft Country, Genius, and 61st Street. His role as OJ Simpson’s lawyer, Johnnie Cochran, in American Crime Story earned him an Emmy, a Critics Choice Award, and an NAACP award and many more nominations. He’s also received an Emmy for his part in Lovecraft Country and a Tony Award for his role in Lucky Guy.

Angela Bassett’s Early Career

Angela Bassett, like her husband, is an Ivy League graduate and acclaimed artist. Born on August 16, 1958, in New York City, Bassett’s early life was a bit tumultuous. She was sent to live with her aunt when her little sister was born. Her parents divorced and she went back to live with her mother.

Angela and her sister were raised with high expectations of succeeding in school, which she certainly lived up to. Bassett became the first African American student at Boca Ciega High School to be inducted into the National Honor Society. She went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts at Yale and a Master of Fine Arts at Yale’s Drama School. It was there that she and Courtney Vance first met, but they wouldn’t even consider dating until many years later.

Like Vance, Bassett’s education and early acting experiences centered around classical training and theatre. She was part of the Second Stage Theatre and Yale Repertory Theatre. She also starred in Fences, but it would be a California-based production and much later, in 2006. Bassett appeared in a handful of TV series, including ten episodes of Search for Tomorrow, in her final year at Yale. She got her first film role in the movie F/X in 1986, prompting a move to Los Angeles. She’d just graduated with her MFA and had also joined the Screen Actors Guild (now SAG-AFTRA), and LA had more job opportunities.

From Malcolm X to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

In LA, Angela Bassett continued to get on-camera roles, primarily in TV series and TV movies, for several years. The early 90s were busy but eventually landed Bassett a notable role as Reva Styles in Boyz n the Hood. The next year, in 1992, she played Betty Shabazz in Malcolm X, which won her an Image Award. a Chicago Film Critics Association nomination, and a return as Shabazz in Panther. In 1993, Bassett won a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It.

A few years later, Bassett starred as the titular character in How Stella Got Her Groove Back. She played Rosa Parks in 2002, a role for which she was Emmy-nominated. Bassett’s career has been busy and plentiful, with over 105 credits to her name and more on the way. She did voice work for BoJack Horseman and is a lead on 9-1-1. Bassett also joined the Marvel Universe as Ramonda in Black Panther, Avengers: Endgame, and more recently, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. She won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Black Panther and her second Golden Globe for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Courtney B Vance and Angela Bassett: From Yale Classmates to Lovers for Life

It’s hard to fathom how someone who stays so busy could keep up with a family, but Angela Bassett is a queen. Here is how she and Courtney B Vance became one of Hollywood’s most beloved couples.

Despite meeting at Yale Drama School, Vance had a girlfriend at the time, and she was also in their classes. Bassett recalled to Oprah Winfrey that she was “beautiful… all, lithe, dark, skinny and just alluring.” She also said that there was not a single thought of wanting to be with Vance when they were at Yale.

However, the pair met again about 14 years later in Los Angeles. At that point, around 1994, they decided to go on a date. “I was single; he was single,” Bassett told People. “And I had such an appreciation for him over those years — of his consistency, how he treated other people, of what a supporter he is, what a connector of people and ideas he is, how passionate he is.”

But all those nice qualities also made Bassett think Vance was a bit “boring.” She told Oprah that their first date didn’t exactly make sparks fly.

“Dare I say it wasn’t memorable,” she admitted. “He just seemed like a really, really nice guy, which translated to kind of boring. That was it. Wasn’t gonna give him a second thought.”

But another date made Bassett whistle an entirely different tune. In her joint memoir written with Vance, Friends: A Love Story, Bassett recalls their first kiss:

“I felt like a teenager. It was truly reminiscent of my first puppy love kisses. I got pinpricks and chills up the back of my thighs and across my butt. Up my neck. Across my scalp.”


Vance and Bassett Have a Twin Son and Daughter, Bronwyn and Slater

It was on. Vance and Bassett were married three years later, on October 12, 1997. The couple wanted children and began fertility treatments, but years went by with no success.

“I was devastated when it didn’t happen [again and again]. I had to remain hopeful and resilient and, ‘Okay, let’s do it again,’” Bassett told Oprah.

Finally, they recruited a surrogate, who successfully carried both Vance and Bassett’s biological children. In December 2005, the couple announced that they were expecting twins. Their son and daughter, Bronwyn Golden and Slater Josiah Vance, were born on January 27, 2006. Vance told Oprah that he’d had a precognitive dream about twins — 7 years earlier and when he and his wife first started trying to get pregnant.

“I had a dream about seven years ago that we were going to have twins,” he said. “I didn’t know how it was going to happen.”

Bronwyn and Slater have been spotted at big Hollywood events with their parents, including in 2008 when Bassett received her Hollywood Walk of Fame Star. They also attended the 2018 Black Panther premiere.

Parenting Has Its Challenges

Speaking on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Bassett admitted that parenting comes with its challenges. Attesting to her husband’s ability to “get things done” and getting their children to listen even when he was working thousands of miles away, she didn’t find it as easy.

“I either have to guilt trip them or, you know, pull things away,” she said. “Or just leave the room, just throw my hands up and just holler and go to my corner. And try to think of some other way to get them to do what they know what they need to do.”

“But I’m the good cop,” she added cheekily. “I tell them, ‘I am your good time. So, you don’t want to mess with me.’”

Vance and Bassett Reveal the Secret to a Successful 25-Year Marriage

On the flip side, Vance and Bassett are cruising through their romantic relationship. They celebrated their 25-year wedding anniversary in October 2022. Speaking with People at the Critics Choice Awards, Vance revealed what the secret to a healthy marriage was.

“Talking, communicating and allowing each other to have your own space and then come back together,” he said. “It’s like a rock band, The Temptations or The Stones or The Eagles. Initially, it was about, ‘they made it,’ and then ‘what about my individual glory?’ And ‘I don’t want to get so caught up in the band and talks about going our separate ways.’ And then going, ‘You know what? We’re better together and stronger together.'”

“To see those groups still doing it 30, 40, 50 years later and making even more money is just, it’s a good feeling, the same thing,” he added.

Bassett had previously opened up about what she saw as the key to success. To her, it was about finding the right person.

“Staying together so long, whether in the industry or not, I think the important thing is that you gotta marry the right person. Make sure you’re both looking in the same direction, basically,” she told People. “You’re not clones of each other, but you have similar or closest similar belief systems and, you know, pleasant personalities. Because we all have strengths, strengths, and weaknesses, and we want to support one another. But I think also recognizing that we are each individual, we have our rindividual dreams and desires and hopes and ways of, of doing things.”

Read More: Inside Christopher Walken’s 53-Year-Long Marriage That Survived a Murder Scandal

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