“A Love Story”: Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance’s Journey to Lasting Marriage

Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance met in college, but it took them a long time to fall in love.

“I thought I’d be married or have a kid by 29,” Bassett tells PEOPLE in this week’s Women Changing the World story. “But by then, I didn’t have a partner, and my career was doing well.”

They first met at the Yale School of Drama in the ’80s. Bassett, 65, reconnected with Vance, 63, when she was 38 and had become successful, starring in movies like What’s Love Got to Do with It? and Waiting to Exhale.

“When I met Courtney again, I admired his talents and personality,” says the 9-1-1 star. “He was supportive and kind.”

After dating for a few months, they got engaged on the night of Vance’s premiere of The Preacher’s Wife and married less than a year later in 1997. They had twins, Bronwyn and Slater, in 2006 and wrote a joint memoir, Friends: A Love Story, in 2009.

“From the start, he was supportive and caring,” says Bassett. “Our communication has always been strong.”

Both agree that marriage takes effort. “It’s about kindness and support,” says Vance, who won an Emmy in 2016. “There are no perfect marriages. It’s work and understanding.”

Their children, soon heading to college, are “a beautiful combination of both of us,” says Vance. They’ve come a long way since they got married.

“I remember feeling unstable early in the marriage,” says Bassett. “But he’s always been calming and supportive.”

Vance describes Bassett as a “lioness” when it comes to her loved ones. “We’re still growing together,” he says.

In 2020, Bassett shared her secret to a lasting marriage: “Marry the right person and make sure you’re both on the same page.”

Reflecting on her second Oscar nomination in 2023, Bassett said Vance always supports her. “He keeps me grounded,” she said.

“She’s my better half,” Vance says. “And we support each other.”

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