Actress Kerry Washington probably never imagined that being involved in “Scandal” would also give her a place in history, but that is exactly where it has landed her. As the star in the upcoming network drama, “Scandal”, Washington is only the second African-American woman to star in a network drama, and she’s bringing her A-Game to the role.
As an award winning actress who President Barack Obama appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, Washington’s character in “Scandal” plays “The Fixer” in the president’s administration and she pulls no punches in the ABC drama. AllHipHop.com caught up with the incomparable Ms. Washington while she was promoting her upcoming theatrical release, “A Thousand Words” alongside Eddie Murphy, and she gave us her take on being a Black actress in Hollywood:
AllHipHop.com: Aside from your film with Eddie Murphy, “Scandal” debuts April 5 – you’re making history with it as the second African-American woman to star in a network drama. How does that feel?
Kerry Washington: Sometimes our role as actors is to look at the material and make it three dimensional, and my character, Olivia Pope, is complex and interesting and as a women and a woman of color. It’s rare that you’re handed that opportunity and don’t have to create it for yourself. She’s smarter than me, more sophisticated than me, and has much better clothes than me! On all levels, she calls on me to bring my “A-Game” to work everyday in a way that I never have before.
AllHipHop.com: There was a lot of controversy behind Octavia [Spencer] and Viola [Davis] winning awards for their roles in The Help. How do you feel about them receiving an award for those roles?
Kerry Washington: I talked about this at the Essence “Black Women In Hollywood” luncheon, and what I think is that we get nervous about stereotypes in the media. But the role of the artist is to bring humanity to the project, and when we do our jobs and make you look past what could have been a stereotype and instead we connect to a real human experience, then that is a great opportunity for transformation because that’s what art is about… And I think they both did that with their work tremendously, and were therefore of service. If I say there’s something wrong about playing the role of a maid, then I’m saying there’s shame about what my grandmother was, and that’s not the case at all.
AllHipHop.com: You’re stumping for Obama again. Why is it important?
Kerry Washington: I think we’re so lucky to live in representational democracy and to live in a place where we have a vote and where our vote matters. People died for us to have that right. People like Susan B. Anthony went to jail in petticoats so that women could have the vote. People are working to protect the voting rights for people of color. People were riding busses and being bombed so that Black people could vote. And even in the student movement, it used to be that you could fight in a war at 17 but could not vote until 21, and young people stood up and said, ‘If I am going to put my life on the line, then I earned the right to vote’.
AllHipHop.com: Whose music are you listening to in Hip-Hop?
Kerry Washington: I was born in 1977 in the Bronx. I grew up in a Hip-Hop context. I’m a product of Hip-Hop culture, and I’m proud of it. I listen to a range of music, from Broadway showtunes to Watch The Throne.
Kerry Washington’s A Thousand Words with Eddie Murphy opens tomorrow, March 9 – WATCH A CLIP BELOW. For more info, click HERE. “Scandal”debuts on April 5.