Most of us get by with a little help from our friends. But just imagine if such a friend was actress Phylicia Rashad or, by way of extension, Denzel Washington. For Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman, that just so happens to be his life.
No big deal.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, the magazine’s March cover star, who plays King T’Challa in the film, revealed part of his arts education was sponsored by none other than Phylicia Rashad and Denzel Washington. He said Rashad was his mentor while he studied at Howard University.
“She would do a play in D.C. and you’d go see it, and she’d drive you home and talk to you, ‘How you eating? You look too skinny. You need a pork chop.’” Boseman said of the ever-so gracious Cosby Show actress. “We were just trying to aspire to her excellence.”
Rashad, a Howard alum herself, told the magazine the love and respect were mutual.
“Chad was this lanky young man with big eyes and an endearing smile and a very gentle way,” Rashad said. “What I saw in him was the sky was the limit. He never asked me to introduce him to anyone – that’s not his way. He was going to make it on his own merits.”
When Boseman and his friends were accepted to a summer program at Oxford and couldn’t afford to go, Rashad wasn’t having it.
“She pushed for us,” Boseman said. “She essentially got some celebrity friends to pay for us to go.”
One of those Hollywood friends was Washington. The actor said he received a letter from the two-time Oscar-winning actor, whom Rashad contacted, to be his benefactor for the trip.
“Denzel paid for me,” Boseman said. “I’m sure he has no idea. It was random. I couldn’t wait to write my thank-you letter! I’ve been waiting to meet him, so I can tell him.”
But Boseman was initially hesitant to share the Fences actor once lent him a helping hand.
“You never want to make someone feel like they owe you something else,” Boseman said. “They’ve already given you whatever it is they were supposed to give you. But I realized this morning that I’ve gotten to a point where nobody would think that. I don’t need any more help.”
This Is Us star Susan Kelechi recently shared Rashad and Washington helped her in the exact same way. During a January taping of Live! with Kelly and Ryan 36-year-old said she had the opportunity to do what Boseman’s been aspiring to since he received Washington’s benefactor letter.
“I saw Mr. Washington at some occasion years later and I said, ‘Excuse me Mr. Washington, you paid for my scholarship to go,’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, you’re welcome,'” Kelechi said.