Kerry Washington is known for her laying her emotions bare on TV shows including Scandal and Little Fires Everywhere, for which she’s nominated for a 2020 Emmy. But when it comes to her own personal life, she prefers to keep things more closely-guarded. In 2013, Washington married former NFL player and actor Nnamdi Asomugha, 39, in an intimate Idaho ceremony. But during their seven-year marriage, the couple has kept most of the details surrounding their relationship private.
Ahead, everything we know about Asomugha, his romance with Washington, and how their children are holding up during quarantine.
He’s a former NFL cornerback.
Asomugha was born in Lafayette, Louisiana and moved to Los Angeles at the age of 3. His childhood was spent making frequent trips to Nigeria, where his family is from. He went on to play college football for the University of California, Berkeley, and was drafted in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. After spending eight years with the team, he played for the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers. Asomugha retired in 2013, although he was voted Best Raider of the Past Decade by Pro Football Focus in 2016, per Vanity Fair.
He told the outlet that even though he’s retired from the sport, he still makes time to watch a Raiders game now and then. “It’s the ultimate team sport, so you have no choice but to feel like family, and that never leaves you,” he explained.
He’s also an actor and producer.
Prior to leaving the NFL, Asomugha tried his hand at acting. He was first inspired to pursue the past time professionally doing commercials “and having directors and different people saying, ‘You’re very gifted at this; I know it’s just a Nike commercial but this is something that you should really look forward to doing when you’re done’ really encouraged me,” he told Playbill. One such director was Peter Berg, who cast Asomugha in 2009’s Friday Night Lights.
After retiring from football, Asomugha executive produced the Golden-Globe nominated Beasts of No Nation in 2015. He went on to star in the indie film Crown Heights, which earned him a nomination for best supporting male at the 2018 Independent Spirit Awards. More recently, Asomugha produced 2019’s Harriet Tubman biopic, Harriet and made his Broadway debut in A Soldier’s Play.
Coming to America helped inspire his career move.
When asked by Vanity Fair which movies made him want to be an actor, Asomugha listed the 1989 Eddie Murphy comedy, Coming to America. “It was 1989 and we were going back to Nigeria, and I think we were on British Airways or something. And the film that was playing was Coming to America, and I just watched how my dad and my uncle, my mom…Everyone was just cracking up,” he remembered. “They could relate because of the story line, and so that film just made a big impression. And I was like, ‘If I can do work that can bring some of these emotions out of people, then that’s when I know it’s good work.'”
He’s a philanthropist.
During his time in football and the arts, Asomugha has made time for charitable endeavors. In 2010, he launched the Asomugha Foundation, which provides underprivileged widows and orphans in Nigeria essential items, shelter, and scholarships. Asomugha also established ACTS (Asomugha College Tour for Scholars), a mentorship program for exemplary students in underserved areas where they can visit universities across the U.S. His philanthropic work earned him several awards, including the NFL Players Association’s Man of the Year Award, the Jefferson Award for Public Service, and the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
He reportedly met Washington while she was on Broadway.
Acting is apparently what brought Washington and Asomugha together romantically. According to the New York Daily News, Asomugha met his future wife when Washington was performing in the play Race on Broadway back in 2009. “The last time I did theater, it completely transformed my life. That’s where I met my husband,” she told Marie Claire in 2018.
He and Washington keep their relationship quiet.
Although we know the origins of their love story, Asomugha and Washington go to great lengths to keep the rest private. “I have girlfriends in this business who talk about their personal lives, and it works for them, and I love it. But not for me,” Washington told Glamour in 2013. “I learned through experience that it doesn’t work for me to talk about my personal life. I’ve had earlier times in my career when I did talk about it. I was on the cover of a bridal magazine.” (Washington appeared on the cover of Instyle Weddings in 2005 when she was engaged to actor David Moscow.) “But I couldn’t just turn around and say, ‘I only want to talk about the good stuff, but not the bad stuff.’ So I just thought, ‘Okay, no more.'”
Even when rumors of divorce between Washington and Asomugha swirled in 2016, she said she wouldn’t be addressing the speculation. “If I don’t talk about my personal life, it means I don’t talk about my personal life,” she said during a 2016 SXSW Film Festival panel, per E!. “That means not only did I not tell you when I was getting married, it also means if somebody has rumors about what’s going on in my marriage, I don’t refute them, because I don’t talk about my personal life.”
He has three kids.
Asomugha and Washington have two children together: six-year-old daughter Isabelle and four-year-old son Caleb. In a recent Today interview, Washington made headlines when she referred to having three children. But she was speaking about Asomugha’s 12-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, to whom Washington is a stepmother, per People.
As for how the family of five is holding up during a difficult year, Washington gave an update to People in late July. “No matter your age, we’re all navigating the two pandemics, of COVID-19 and this sort of awakening around systemic racism,” she explained. “It is a lot to manage for everybody. When it comes to the parenting, I’m trying to be more patient, with myself and everybody in my house. We’re all in our process.”
He and Washington are open to working together.
For those wondering if Asomugha may collaborate professionally with Washington, he says never say never. “We would produce. We’d probably produce before acting, I would think,” he told Vanity Fair in 2017. He also revealed that Washington’s support helped him shift from playing football to performing. “She had a lot of support, just in general,” he told VF. “And I say all the time, when you’re transitioning from one career to another, or even just one job to another, most of the time you will go as far as your support is. You know what I mean? And especially your support at home.”
Kerry Washington shared rare details of their wedding ten years later.
On Wednesday, November 29, Washington made an appearance on The Drew Barrymore Show and shared rare details of her relationship with Nnamdi, including from their wedding. First, she revealed they met at the Barrymore Theater, coincidentally named after the host’s ascendents, in 2009 while performing in David Mamet’s Race.
“I was doing my Broadway debut. It’s such a storied, important theater,” Washington said. “It was my first time on Broadway and now I write about it in my book, so it has another fun legend to fill all the beautiful things that have happened at that theater.”
Nnamdi was backstage when they met. Barrymore asked if their attraction was a “first sight thing” or “slow burn.”
She replied, “A little bit of both.”
“You talk to people like my parents who have been married for as long as they’ve been married, I think both are important,” Washington went on. “I think that first sight thing for me was really important and undeniable, but I think the slow burn is what keeps you going. We’ve been married 10 years now, so it’s like an immediate with a great slow burn that I hope will keep burning.”
She then shared how the couple kept the wedding a secret, convincing vendors the event was a family reunion.
“We had some fun with code names, so Jason Wu made my wedding gown,” Washington explained. “He was secretly custom-making this wedding gown for me, but we used to say that it was for the Moroccan premiere of Scandal.”
Savannah Walsh is an Editorial Fellow at ELLE.com.