The Fatherhood star wed writer and producer Roderick Spencer in October 1983

By Dana Rose Falcone
June 18, 2021 02:00 PM
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alfre woodard and her husband
Credit: Jason LAveris/Filmmagic

Throughout more than three decades in Hollywood, Alfre Woodard has starred in everything from fan favorites TV series like Desperate Housewives and St. Elsewhere to acclaimed movies such as 12 Years a Slave and Cross Creek.

By her side for most of the ride has been her husband of 37 years, writer and producer Roderick Spencer.  

"Coupling up is just the best thing people can do," the Fatherhood star, 68, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue.

Woodard feels lucky that their love has withstood the test of time. "I've been fortunate enough that we have continued to find that we learn best together, and that we work best together," she says. "And there's always been a strong artistic connection between us. That's the bottom line. We speak the same language."

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alfre woodard and her husband
Credit: Alfre Woodard/Instagram

That connection only deepened when they became parents to daughter Mavis, 30, and son Duncan, 28.

"First it was just us and the things that we love and what we wanted in the world. Then it was raising children," Woodard says. "And now it's the project of being copartners with our children in their lives."

With their children all grown up, Woodard and Spencer, 63, got the chance to work together in 2019 on Netflix's Juanita, which he wrote and she starred in.

"We're at the point in our lives where we have new projects because the children can walk and talk and stand, and they are boss ladies and fantastic brothers out in the world themselves, and so we find new ones," the four-time Emmy winner says. "You continue to listen and grow."

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In her new Netflix film Fatherhood, in which Woodard plays the mother-in-law of Kevin Hart's character, she relived the joys of having a newborn baby.

"You never run out of being able to dote on the young," she gushes. "And know how precious it is because whatever you say and whatever you do, it's like they have a mirror."

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Woodard adds that that film, arriving just in time for Father's Day, shows "how vital it is for men to be able to be real fathers to their children." The actress's own dad made a huge impact on her life.

"My father is the root of my feminism," Woodard explains. "He never implied that there was anything I couldn't do. And as a matter of fact, he was giving me grief if I tried to cop out and say, 'Well, all the guys are probably going to be elected to the student council.' [He'd say,] 'Well, then you've got to figure out how you're going to get around them so you can be elected.'"

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Woodard can't say enough sweet words about her late father, who would've celebrated his 100th birthday earlier this month.

"Some people think of dads as muscle, but there's so much love in them," she continues. "They're like that cream center on a chocolate with the cherry inside."

Fatherhood is now streaming on Netflix.