Kerry Washington is among the few that has been able to work in television and film. Actors usually stick to one because switching between different audiences can be hard and so it’s rare for us to see movie actors also star in lead TV roles. Washington, however, handles this difficulty with ease.
Born in New York City, Washington grew up in the Bronx, the only child of her educational consultant mother and real estate broker father. She studied at George Washington University and graduated with a double major in sociology and anthropology and later continued studying acting at Michael Howard Studios.
Her degree in sociology and anthropology is interesting and seems to reflect in her movie and TV roles, so many of which confront race and culture directly. She’s starred in The Last King of Scotland, in David Marnet’s play Race and in Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls.
Most recently she’s starred in Django Unchained as Broomhilda von Schaft and on ABC’s Scandal as Olivia Pope. On this, she commented to The Telegraph UK, “It’s quite a dichotomy, to go from playing a slave, who isn’t even considered a full person, to playing literally one of the most powerful women in the country.” The switch from big screen to TV screen is one thing, but the change from damsel in distress to elite political crisis manager is another. Her Scandal role is “groundbreaking”. It’s the first prime-time TV show to feature an African-American lead actress for more than 30 years.
Washington still says she prefers TV over film. In an interview with The Telegraph UK ‘Sometimes in features there are a lot of cooks, and story is not the most important thing. The director has one agenda, the producers have another, the lead actor has another and so the story can get muddied. But in television, the writer is king – or in the case of Shonda [Rhimes, Scandal’s creator], queen. The person in charge of story is in charge.”
Off-screen, Washington is also a political activist and a fashion icon. She has been campaigning for Obama since 2008, serving on his Committee on the Arts and the Humanities to help schools in Washington, D.C. expand their arts programs. At the Human Rights Campaign Gala in Los Angeles on March 23rd, Washington wore a wonderful strapless Jason Wu gown with a simple headband while showing her support for equal rights among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups.
Brilliant, gorgeous and political — what’s not to love?