Hollywood relationships are notorious for moving quickly and often ending in heartbreak. But despite his success, actor Morris Chestnut has defied the odds and is celebrating 23 years of marriage to wife Pam in 2018. There’s apparently a special secret to the success of his relationship, though, as Chestnut himself has revealed.
Chestnut first entered the world on New Year’s Day 1969 in Cerritos, California. And after graduating from high school, the future star studied for a degree in theater and finance at California State University, Northridge. In 1991, however, the aspiring actor got his big break after he appeared on screen as Ricky Baker in the John Singleton movie Boyz n the Hood.
Since then, Chestnut has worked steadily and added some plum roles to his résumé. Most notably, in 1999 he starred opposite Taye Diggs in The Best Man, with the part subsequently earning him an NAACP Image Award nomination. Chestnut would also star in the film’s sequel, The Best Man Holiday, in 2013.
Then there’s Chestnut’s appearances alongside Steven Seagal in three movies: Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, Prince of Pistols and Half Past Dead. More recently, however, he’s been seen on screen in Kick-Ass 2 and The Call.
Chestnut’s no stranger to TV, either, as he portrayed pathologist Dr. Beaumont Rosewood Jr. in the Fox series Rosewood from 2015 to 2017. But although he’s starred opposite stunning actresses including Halle Berry and Vivica A. Fox throughout his career, the actor has come to be known as somewhat of a family man.
You see, Chestnut has been married to his wife Pam Byse since 1995; the couple subsequently welcomed son Grant in 1997 and daughter Paige the following year. The star has since revealed that he had wanted to get to know Pam after spotting her in a club in Atlanta; as a result, then, he asked his friend, ex-wrestler and fellow actor Tiny Lister, about her.
“I saw Pam, and I said, ‘What’s up with her?’ [Lister] said, ‘Nah, man, don’t waste your time. She don’t give anybody no play,’” Chestnut revealed, according to BlackDoctor.org. “So as soon as he said that, I was like, ‘That’s the woman I need to go holler at.’”
But even though Chestnut and his wife got together during the early days of his fame, their marriage has still stood the test of time. And when asked how he makes his relationship work, the actor admitted that it’s easier than most people realize.
In particular, Chestnut has explained that the success of his marriage is down to one small but important detail. “I have been with my wife for a number of years, and the thing that keeps us strong is a mutual respect. That is first and foremost,” he said during a 2014 interview with Essence. “I would like to think of myself as pretty perceptive because when I am in different types of situations, I am always watching and listening more than I am talking.”
The actor continued, “And when I met my wife, there were a lot of qualities I was paying attention to. I knew that she would be a great mother just for how she cared for her nephew and her family. She respected her mother, and she respected her family. And those were some of the initial qualities that I saw that I thought would make her a great partner.”
In fact, Chestnut has been asked about the success of his marriage on a number of occasions. And in a 2016 interview with HuffPost, the star explained that while he and his wife are not the same people they were when they tied the knot, communication has helped to keep the romance alive. “We’ve been blessed enough to grow together,” he added.
The actor continued, “Everyone is different at 28 than they were at 22. And everyone is different at 35 than they were at 28.” However, Chestnut is aware that a lot of couples can’t make it work the way he and his wife have. He added, “You can either grow apart or grow together.”
Chestnut and Byse are not the only couple in Hollywood who have managed to go the distance, though. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick have been married since 1997, for instance, as have William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman. Meanwhile, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson celebrated 30 years of marriage in April 2018.
However, it certainly appears that, more often than not, celebrity relationships don’t last. And Chestnut has a theory about why this happens: namely, that people in showbiz can get too caught up in the spotlight and so lose sight of what’s really important.
“I’m in Hollywood, but Hollywood is not my life,” the actor told HuffPost. “I think a lot of the time what happens is [that] people get so engrossed in the industry. The industry is their life and their friends. Everything is the industry.”
Chestnut continued, “A lot of times people come into the industry and they’re up one minute, then they’re down. That type of instability on a number of levels is difficult for everyone.” But the star divulged that for him, his family will always come before his career.
“Every marriage is going to be unstable at times, because you have to go through everything with someone,” Chestnut added. “I’ve dealt with ups and downs in my career, but it’s never been my life. It’s just an aspect of my life.”
And while Chestnut remains devoted to his wife, his career is also stronger than ever. After filming a feature-length episode of TV drama Being Mary Jane, he is working on a spy thriller series called The Enemy Within. And the 49-year-old has other projects currently on the go too.
For one, Chestnut is set to star in the movie The Syndicate, which he will additionally be producing. And the actor will also appear in and produce an upcoming drama series about a bomb squad. The show, entitled The Long Walk, is based on Thomas Perry’s 2018 novel The Bomb Maker.
But Chestnut has one last message to impart about his marriage: it’s also important to regularly remind your partner that you’re committed to them. “With my wife, I’m always letting her know what the deal is,” he told Upscale magazine in 2013. “‘It’s you. Ain’t nobody else. It’s you.’ And I think, conversely, that’s what a woman needs to do for a man.”