Susan Kelechi Watson will be forever grateful to Denzel Washington.
During her Tuesday appearance on Live with Kelly & Ryan, the This Is Us star recalled a moment when the legendary actor impacted her life long before she came to Hollywood.
A struggling student at Howard University, Watson was presented the opportunity to study Shakespeare at Oxford in London but couldn’t afford the trip. Watson’s friend, actress and fellow Howard alum Phylicia Rashad, approached Washington about sponsoring the trip, and the rest is history.
“There were 10 of us,” Watson, 36, remembered. “It was, like, $5,000 per person, and she calls [and says], ‘Denzel and I are paying for you guys to go.’”
The Jamaican-American actress, known for her role as Beth Pearson on the hit NBC series, added, “They didn’t have many minority students, much less people from a historically black university go, so we were one of the inaugural groups to go.”
Watson said the summer trip abroad was an unforgettable one.
“I’m happy to say [Denzel] paid for my scholarship, and we went and had this amazing summer that changed all of our lives,” she said.
Several years later, she bumped into the two-time Oscar winner and reminded him of that kind gesture.
“I said, ‘Excuse me Mr. Washington, you paid for my scholarship to go,’” she recalled, laughing. “And he was like, ‘Yeah, you’re welcome.’”
This Is Us recently took home the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, while Watson’s onscreen husband, Sterling K. Brown, scored the award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series, making him the first black actor ever to win in the category.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays on NBC at 9 p.m. ET.
'This Is Us': Sterling K. Brown, Justin Hartley & Chrissy Metz Tease Jack's Death Is Near (Exclusive)
Sterling K. Brown Reacts to ‘This Is Us’ SAG Awards Wins: ‘I Totally Ripped My Jacket!’ (Exclusive)
Mandy Moore Says Matching Blue Dresses With 'This Is Us' Co-Stars at SAG Awards Was (Somehow) Not Planned