A duo reveal how they keep their ten-year relationship solid as a rock
Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance are that rare celebrity couple who behave like grown-ups. And that’s what makes their first book, Friends: A Love Story—and marriage—successful, while so many other efforts by celebrity couples quickly land in the bargain bin.
Told alternately from Bassett’s and Vance’s point of view, the book (coauthored by Hilary Beard) reveals their secrets to building and sustaining a strong, faith-filled union. Here’s a hint: It’s not about what happens between the sheets; in fact, Bassett made a vow to herself not to have sex while they dated.
The two actors admit they both had plenty of baggage when they began dating in 1996, after traveling in the same circles for a decade. They first met at Yale University in the late 1980’s, when both were students. Vance’s image of his happy all-American family was shattered in 1990, when he was 30. Right when his star was beginning to shine—he’d just landed a starring role in the Broadway play Six Degrees of Separation—his father committed suicide. In the wake of his father’s death, Vance promised his mother he would seek therapy. Over the next several years, in weekly therapy sessions, he conquered his own demons, including his fear of intimacy and his addiction to pornography. For her part, Bassett had grown up with little reason to trust the men in her life. From the time she was a preteen, Bassett had experienced unwanted sexual advances. Fortunately she had a close and trusting bond with her mother. When she was not quite 11, Bassett tearfully revealed to her that not one but two of the men her mother had dated were “feelin’ on me.”
Despite the sheen of the duo’s celebrity, this is no glossy romantic yarn. Friends at times sounds like a straight-up conversation between a couple sitting around the kitchen table. The candor is refreshing because Bassett and Vance keep it real: Love is a wonderful thing, but it takes work. You’ll see their hard work pay off in a happy ending that not even the best Hollywood minds could have scripted.