WalkGoodLA founder and son of Emmy-award-winning actress, Sheryl Lee Ralph, is officially off the market. Etienne Maurice proposed to his longtime girlfriend and journalist at ABC News, Stephanie Wash, on July 6th, with a surprise engagement soiree, complete with family and friends, along with roses and candles atop a New York City rooftop. July 6th was a fitting date for the couple, as two years ago, on that day, the two met at Wash’s aunt’s home. Her aunt happens to be Ralph’s best friend and actress, Victoria Rowell. Of course, his mother, Ralph, is elated by the news. “Two years ago on July 6, my friend of so many years, Victoria Rowell, called me up and said, ‘My niece has just met Etienne, and I don’t know what I’m looking at, but I see something.’ Exactly two years later, our family is growing as Etienne just asked Stephanie for her hand in marriage. I couldn’t be happier,” she said, exclusively to ESSENCE.
Victoria Rowell is ecstatic for the happy couple as well, “I’ve been Auntie Vicki to Etienne and his beautiful sister Coco since they were born. Sheryl and I built a solid friendship through careers, marriages, and babies… now our children are adults. Several years ago, Etienne joined me at my Hollywood home two years ago to celebrate my daughter Maya’s birthday. At this intimate party, he met my stunning niece, Stephanie Wash…and it was love at first sight for both of them. They’ve been happily inseparable ever since!” she said.
Although it was a surprise proposal, Etienne had to be especially crafty with planning as he feared Wash would easily find out about the engagement. “Two years ago, on July 6th, we first met at her Aunt’s (Victoria Rowell, my mother’s best friend) place in Los Angeles. She [Wash] expected me to propose there, so I knew I had to mix things up. I pulled some strings and got her boss at ABC News to pretend she had a critical meeting to set the stage for my proposal. I’ve got to tell you, I was seriously nervous. It took a lot of planning,” he shared.
Etienne continued, “Steph’s one of the sharpest journalists in her field, so I was worried she’d figure it out, but luckily, she didn’t. And let me say, as a producer, this felt like my greatest show yet. It’s just amazing how much joy this woman brings me. My life’s better in every way because of Steph. I knew I had to make this proposal special. I’ll remember this day as long as I live.”
His new fiancé shares the same sentiment about improving each other’s lives. “I knew Etienne was special from the moment we first locked eyes. We began dating the next morning. As we learned more about each other, I quickly knew in my soul he was my person. I felt God in our relationship,” she stated.
When speaking of the proposal, Wash was shellshocked initially as she stepped into her mentor’s home, expecting to meet with colleagues; instead, she was met with her closest family and loved ones with a pool of rose petals. “The day of our proposal, when I stepped into my mentor’s house and first heard the song “You” by Jesse Powell playing, I thought it was strange he knew the song. I didn’t think much about it because I believed I was there for a get-together with my work colleagues. It wasn’t until I turned a corner to go outside and saw a glimpse of rose petals and the sun shining down on Etienne’s handsome face that I thought, This is happening.”
Wash vividly remembers the intricate details of that special day and how emotionally the moment was for them. “I honestly don’t know how my feet moved me towards Etienne; then I heard him cry when he grabbed my hands, embraced me, and folded into one another’s shoulders. That’s when my tears fell. I was overjoyed,” she said.
Wash continued, “I felt every word Etienne spoke to me in my soul. I remember feeling so lucky to have a man who loves me like Etienne. And then, when he opened the ring box, I nearly fainted. And we both were laughing because he knew he did well. It was the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen.”
The ring is indeed beautiful, as it’s an oval-shaped diamond, and it left the future bride speechless and wondering how he could pull off such a surprise. “After the proposal, when I got a true sense of the crowd Etienne had gathered for our special moment, I could not believe it. How did he pull this off?! It is still unbelievable to me,” Wash said.
She continued, “Etienne’s proposal was perfection. It’s the kind you see in the movies and dream of, except this was very real and involved the people we love. And now I get to marry my best friend, which I’ve prayed for endlessly. Dreams do come true.”
See photos of their chic engagement proposal celebration below. All photos are by Kavi Peshawaria.