It’s no secret that long-lasting relationships in Hollywood are hard to come by. The toll of consistently traveling away from home, having paparazzi chasing you down 24/7 and nosey social media followers tracking your every move can easily drive a wedge between couples. Thankfully, these Black celebrity couples have developed the secret sauce to making love last.
Jay-Z and Beyonce have made no secret of their journey to re-establish trust in their 11-year marriage with transparent tracks in Lemonade and 4:44. Michelle and Barack Obama were thrust into the most high-pressure position in the free world, and leaned on their faith in each other to make it through. LL Cool J and his wife Simone Smith persevered through a devastating cancer diagnosis.
Scroll through the gallery to see the longstanding Black celebrity couples we love.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, 1995
The iconic Hollywood couple met on the set of Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air and married in 1997. Their son, Jaden, was born in 1998 and their daughter Willow in 2000.
Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, 2019
During a Rap Radar podcast episode, Will Smith said he considers Jada his life partner. "There’s no deal breakers,” the actor said. “There’s nothing she could do ― ever ― nothing would break our relationship. She has my support until death and it feels so good to get to that space.”
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 21: Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith arrive for the Premiere Of Disney's "Aladdin" held at the El Capitan Theatre on May 21, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham, 1987
Oprah and Stedman began dating in 1986. The pair initially planned to wed in November 1992, but decided to forego a traditional wedding in place of a "spiritual union" instead. Winfrey once said during a 2015 "SuperSoul Sunday" chat with Shonda Rhimes that, "What I realized is, I don’t want to be married ... because I could not have the life that I created for myself.”
Stedman Graham and Oprah Winfrey at the Stingfellow's Restaurant in New York City, New York (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham, 2018
During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Graham revealed the secret to their lasting relationship. "The thing about our relationship is I want the best for her," explains the 68-year-old author. "So, I'm dedicated to her happiness, so that's great for her and I want her to be the best she can possibly be and she's done a pretty good job of doing it."
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: Stedman Graham and Oprah Winfrey attend The Robin Hood Foundation's 2018 benefit at Jacob Javitz Center on May 14, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Robin Hood)
Ice Cube and Kimberly Jackson, 1997
Ice Cube (real name O'Shea Jackson) married Kimberly Jackson in April 1992. Together, they share four children.
Ice Cube & Wife (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Ice Cube and Kimberly Jackson, 2017
Ice Cube speaks highly of his wife, telling TODAY, “She’s my backbone. I wouldn’t be here without her.”
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 19: Actor/rapper Ice Cube and wife Kimberly Woodruff attends the Premiere of Paramount Pictures' "xXx: Return of Xander Cage" at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on January 19, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images for Fashion Media)
Jay-Z and Beyoncé, 2002
The power couple first came together for their collaborative track "'03 Bonnie & Clyde." After keeping their relationship low profile for years, they wed in a private New York City wedding ceremony on April 4, 2008.
(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) Beyonce Knowles & Jay-Z (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Jay-Z and Beyoncé, 2019
Though they're one of the most beloved Black couples of our time, these two aren't afraid to share about times their relationship was tested (including on respective albums Lemonade and 4:44) Today, the couple shares three children: seven-year-old daughter Blue Ivy and two-year-old twins Rumi and Sir. On The Run II tour footage captured by fans and shared on social media shows the Carters seemingly renewing their vows, most likely in honor of their 10th anniversary.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Jay Z and Beyonce Knowles-Carter attend "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
LL Cool J and Simone Smith, 1988
LL Cool J (real name James Todd Smith) and Simone met in the early '80s as teenagers set up by a friend. The couple married in 1995 and have four children together, in addition to a grandson, King-James.
Actor LL Cool J and date Simone Johnson arrive at the 1988 American Music Awards party. This photo appears on page 58-59 in Frank Trapper's RED CARPET book. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
LL Cool J and Simone Smith, 2018
LL and Simone have been through quite a few ups and downs throughout their 23 years of marriage, including Simone's bone cancer diagnosis in 2004. Together, they partnered on the "Beat Cancer Like A Boss" campaign this year.
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JULY 17: Rapper LL Cool J and wife Simone Smith attend the premiere of Columbia Picture's 'The Equalizer 2' at TCL Chinese Theatre on July 17, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Steve Harvey and Marjorie Harvey, 2009
Steve first saw Marjorie when she walked into a comedy club he was performing in back in 1990. He proclaimed on stage, “I don’t know who you are but I’m going to marry you.” They dated briefly, reconnected again in 2005 and married 2007.
LAS VEGAS - AUGUST 15: Actor/comedian Steve Harvey (R) and his wife Marjorie Harvey arrive at the seventh annual Hoodie Awards at the Mandalay Bay Events Center August 15, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Steve Harvey and Marjorie Harvey, 2018
Steve told ESSENCE exclusively that his wife is the secret to his success. “Everything I have,” he says pointing to his Marjorie, “is because of this girl right here.”
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 08: Marjorie Elaine Harvey and Steve Harvey attend the Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda 2018 collection at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center on April 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
Denzel Washington and Pauletta Washington, 1996
On June 25, 1983, Denzel and Pauletta Washington, whom he met on the set of his first movie Wilma. Together, they have four children.
Denzel Washington and Pauletta Washington during "Courage Under Fire" Los Angeles Premiere at The Academy in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Denzel Washington and Pauletta Washington, 2019
The couple celebrated 36 years of marriage this year. In speaking with People, Denzel praised his wife for creating their family structure. "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.”
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 06: Pauletta Washington (L) and Denzel Washington attend the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Denzel Washington at Dolby Theatre on June 06, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker, 2002
The couple, who wed in May 2005 after meeting on the set of Soul Food: The Series, have two children together: a daughter, Sophie, and a son, Nicolas. Over the years, these two have remained the ultimate #couplegoals, often sharing sweet moments of adoration for one another and giving us glimpses of their family life.
Nicole Parker and Boris Kodjoe during "Brown Sugar" - New York Premiere at The Ziegfeld Theater in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker, 2019
Celebrating their 14th wedding anniversary, Kodjoe praised his wife on Instagram, writing “I love you @nicoleariparker for baring your soul, for opening your heart, and for shining your bright light through the thickest and thinnest of times. ☀️”
LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 08: Actors Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker attend the Soul Train Awards 2013 at the Orleans Arena on November 8, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Maury Phillips/BET/Getty Images for BET)
Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, 1993
Spike and Tonya Lee met in 1992 at the Congressional Black Caucus Weekend in Washington D.C. Tonya told ESSENCE about their first meeting at the formal dinner. “We walked past each other. Spike circled back around and proceeded to give me the third degree. ‘Are you an actress? A model? A singer? Who are you here with? What do you do? Do you have a boyfriend?’”
Director Spike Lee (R) and wife Tonya Lewis Lee attend 'Knicks Basketball Game' on May 2, 1993 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, 2019
Tonya remains one of Spike's greatest influences in life and in business. In fact, she was the one who inspired him to revive his classic film She's Gotta Have It as a series. "It was my wife’s idea," he told Vice. "She said: 'Spike, you should try to do this, or we should try to do this together as a series.' So I said, 'That’s a great idea. Let’s do it.'”
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 24: Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee attend the 91st Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Grant Hill and Tamia, 2001
The couple married on July 24, 1999, and have two daughters: Myla Grace Hill, 16, and Lael Rose Hill, 10.
Singer Tamia and basketball player Grant Hill attend 'Party for Michael Jackson-30th Anniversary Celebration' on September 7, 2001 at Tavern on the Green in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Grant Hill and Tamia, 2016
The couple's union has stood the test of time. But ultimately, they say marriage isn't as hard as people make it seem. “Every day you are just saying to each other, ‘we are going to work it out, we are going get through it together,’" Tamia told ESSENCE exclusively, "[because] it’s not about looking into each other’s eyes, it’s about looking in the same direction. So, there’s no secret.”
Former Basketball Player Grant Hill and Tamia Hill arrive at a State Dinner in honor of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House in Washington on March 10, 2016. / AFP / Chris Kleponis (Photo credit should read CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, 1992
Barack and Michelle met in 1989, while the former President was a summer associate at a Chicago law firm. Michelle was his advisor at the time. Mrs. Obama joked on the 2019 Essence Festival stage that her future husband was late to their first date. The beautiful couple eventually got married in October 1992 in Chicago.
Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, 2018
While reeling us in at Essence Festival with a hilarious story about her first date with former President Barack Obama, Mrs. Obama gave women some sage advice about maintaining a healthy marriage and marrying your equal. “Marriage is a choice you make every day,” she explained. “You don’t do it because it’s easy. You do it because you believe in it. You believe in the other person.”
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: Former U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama participate in the unveiling of their official portraits during a ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, on February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. The portraits were commissioned by the Gallery, for Kehinde Wiley to create President Obama's portrait, and Amy Sherald that of Michelle Obama. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, 2008
The actors wed in 2003 and adopted their daughter, Genesis, in October of 2011.
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 23: Actors Julius Tennon (L) and Viola Davis attend the "Nights In Rodanthe" Premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater on September 23, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)
Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, 2019
Davis has said that she met Tennon three weeks after she prayed a special prayer for love to come into her life. “I was the loneliest woman in the world, and someone said, ‘You should just pray for a husband,” Davis told Page Six. “I said I wanted a big black man from the South who looked like a football player, who already had children, who maybe had been married before Three and a half weeks later, I met my husband.”
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 10: Julius Tennon and Viola Davis attends the Netflix 2019 BAFTA AWARDS After Party at Chiltern Firehouse on February 10, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Netflix)
Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance, 1998
The couple first met at the Yale School of Drama, but they didn’t get together right away as Vance had a girlfriend at the time. Fourteen years later, their paths crossed again. "I was single and he was single," Bassett said. "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.”
Angela Bassett and her husband Courtney B. Vance during 13th Annual Carousel of Hope Ball Benefiting Childrens Diabetes at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance, 2018
Talking to People, Bassett revealed that she appreciates her husband for his support for her both as an actress and a wife. “For me, I know he’s a phenomenal person and actor and that’s what he’s gifted to do,” said Bassett. “And for me, it’s always about allow[ing] you to, you know, follow your muse, and he allows me. It’s not like I expect this, I expect that from you; Dinner on the table every day, or this, that and the other. I have to go sometimes. I can’t be there sometimes, and he steps in there. He’s right there.”
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 03: Actress Angela Bassett and husband Courtney B. Vance arrive at the premiere screening of FX's 'American Horror Story: Hotel' at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on October 3, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Kirk Franklin and Tammy Franklin, 1999
The couple started off as friends and eventually started dating. They married on January 20, 1996. They share two children, and they each have a child from a previous relationship.
Kirk Franklin and wife Tammy Franklin (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Kirk Franklin and Tammy Franklin, 2019
Kirk Franklin told The Breakfast Club that he and Tammy have made it through by learning to compromise. “Me and wife, who’s the illest, we’ve been married 23 years. We don’t always agree. But my love and respect for her cause me to at least want to consider her views, thoughts and ideas.”
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 23: Tammy Collins (L) and Kirk Franklin attend the 2019 BET Awards on June 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage)
David and Tamela Mann, 2008
David and Tamela first met in high school. "A friend of mine brought her (Tamela) to the group where myself, Kirk Franklin and Darrell Blair sang," David said in an interview. "Tamela thought she was bad and she came to the school to teach us how to sing. Long story short, one day I looked into her eyes and she kissed me on my lips. That is the short version of it."
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 13: Actors Tamela Mann and David Mann attend the Lionsgate Premiere of Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns at The Cinerama Dome on March 13, 2008 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
David and Tamela Mann, 2019
“When I found her I found a GOOD THING and now I truly have favor with God,” David wrote on the pair’s joint Instagram page, celebrating 31 years of marriage. “Forever with you just doesn’t seem long enough but I promise I’m going to make the best of our time together I Love you Tamela Mann."
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JULY 05: David Mann and Tamela Mann attends 2019 ESSENCE Festival Presented By Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 05, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)
Debbie Allen and Norm Nixon, 1997
The actress and former NBA player got married in April 1984.
307916 34: Basketball legend Norm Nixon arrives with his wife Debbie Allen at a Fox network press party July 25, 1997 in Los Angeles, CA. Celebrities attended a party held by the network to announce the fall lineup for 1997. (Photo by Barry King/Liaison)
Debbie Allen and Norm Nixon, 2019
The couple, who have been married for 35 years, recently became first time grandparents. “One of the best days of my life was February 7 when my daughter [Vivian] gave birth to my first grandchild!” the actress told Closer. “It was so exciting! It was hectified. Shiloh Elizabeth Williams is here and she is just the joy of our family right now.”
US actress Debbie Allen (L) and husband US former basketball player Norm Nixon arrive for the Smithsonian Celebration of Asian Pacific Americans in Los Angeles on May 18, 2019. (Photo by Michael Tran / AFP) (Photo credit should read MICHAEL TRAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Holly Robinson Peete and Rodney Peete, 2000
The Peetes tied the knot on June 10, 1995 and have four beautiful children together: Twins Ryan Elizabeth Peete and Rodney Peete Jr., 20, Robinson James Peete 16, and Roman Peete, 13.
Actress Holly Robinson and husband Rodney Peete attending 31st Annual NAACP Image Awards on February 12, 2000 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Holly Robinson Peete and Rodney Peete, 2017
The couple is proud of maintaining 24 years of marriage. "Almost everyone we know who married around the same time in our L.A. peer group are divorced, on another marriage, or just didn’t make it," Holly once told The New York Times. "We’re the original gangsta couple; the one who’s still together. That took work. It still takes work."
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 04: Actress Holly Robinson Peete (L) and husband Rodney Peete attend a screening of Hallmark Channel's "Christmas at Holly Lodge" at The Grove on December 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
LeBron James and Savannah James, 2006
LeBron James and his wife Savannah met in high school and have been together ever since. The teenage sweethearts became engaged at a star-studded New Year's Eve bash in 2011, and tied the knot in 2013.
LeBron James and guest Savannah (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Lebron James and Savannah James, 2018
The couple, who are now parents to two sons and a daughter, are still madly in love. “We have been down since high school,” LeBron once said at Harlem’s Fashion Row gala. “I listen to a lot of rap music, and a good friend of mine said, ‘You wasn’t with me shooting in the gym. But in all actuality, Savannah was with me shooting in the gym when I [had] absolutely nothing.”
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 17: LeBron James (L) and Savannah Brinson attend as Remy Martin presents Beats Party on February 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for Remy Martin)
Sterling K. Brown and Ryan Michelle Bathe, 2009
The actors met in 1998 at New York University. They dated on and off in college, entering into a serious relationship in 2004 and eventually marrying in 2007.
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 02: (L-R) Actor Sterling Brown and wife Ryan Bathe attends the This Is Tisch! Gala Benefit at the Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on November 2, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
Sterling K. Brown and Ryan Michelle Bathe, 2019
"I love actors so much, I decided to marry one," Brown said during his acceptance speech at the SAG Awards in 2018. "You're the best scene partner a brother's ever had."
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 11: Ryan Michelle Bathe (L) and Sterling K. Brown attend the premiere of 20th Century Fox's "Breakthrough" at Westwood Regency Theater on April 11, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
Samuel Jackson and LaTanya Richardson-Jackson, 1998
Jackson and Richardson married in 1980 and welcomed daughter Zoe in 1982. Their love began before either of them made it big in Hollywood.
(Original Caption) Samuel Jackson and his wife LaTanya Richardson at the premiere of Stuart Baird's film 'U.S.Marshals' (Photo by Siemoneit/Sygma via Getty Images)
Samuel L. Jackson and LaTanya Richardson-Jackson, 2017
With four decades of marriage under their belt, the couple recently revealed their secret to lasting success. "Our job is just a job, you go to work, we go to work,” Jackson said. “If I’m at home working, I love coming home and sleeping in my bed. I was working a lot of other different places, but she comes to visit. You know, we both come from the theater. She’s on Broadway right now doing To Kill a Mockingbird, I’m out in the world doing movies. We understand the bond we have, the commonality of experiences, the commonality of joy of the theater and of our lives and of our daughter’s life, so it’s easy for us to stay connected.”
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 08: Actor Samuel L. Jackson (R) and wife LaTanya Richardson (L) arrive for the Premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Kong: Skull Island' at Dolby Theatre on March 8, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)