Kerry Washington Discusses Racial Identity & Her Time On “Scandal”


After a recent screening of American Son in Los Angeles, actress Kerry Washington spoke with Variety about her time on Scandal and paving the way for Black actresses in Hollywood. 

“There are various moments in my career and in my life where I’ve felt like ‘the face of the race,’” Washington told Variety. “I mean the whole beginning of ‘Scandal,’ every headline was ‘This hasn’t happened in 40 years.’ And so there was a deep understanding that if ‘Scandal’ didn’t work, it might be another 40 years before we had a [network drama] with a black woman as the lead.”

“So I felt that responsibility — a helpless responsibility, because there was nothing I could do to make people turn on their televisions,” she continued. “I could make sure that we were doing the work and work that I was proud of, but the numbers of eyeballs that watched it, I didn’t have any control over that.”

American Son follows an estranged couple who must come together to find there missing son. The movie released through Netflix back in September and it’s Washington’s first role since playing Olivia Pope on Scandal

As for why she felt drawn to this role, Washington said, “I understood her so clearly. I’ve been that black woman who’s having big feelings in an appropriate moment and being stereotyped to be something other. And I wanted to bring her to our canon. I wanted to embody her [because] — even though I know her and I’ve been her — I hadn’t seen her.”


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