By// S. Tia Brown
Kery Washington Dignified. Yes, that’s the best word to describe Kerry Washington. Her movements. Her speech. Her demeanor. They all whisper: Respect me. We’re enthralled by their chants. Allured by her sense of purpose. Impressed by her poised control. And nowadays, we’re envious of her career.
Just 10 years after her performance in the surprise hit, Save the Last Dance (which grossed $131 million), Washington, who played a teenage mother, has blossomed from stereotype into archetype. As the first Black female lead in a prime-time drama, Scandal, the 35-year-old isn’t simply collecting a check. She’s hip-checking barriers, wagging a finger at prejudices and inspiring female fans. Now that’s a cool 9-to-5.
“As women of all races, we are being taught to be strong, but for Black women it has never been a luxury to not be anything else but that,” she says. “To be able to go beyond the idea of just being strong but to also be a human being, now that’s an accomplishment. My character Olivia Pope gets to be complex, insecure, and to not be a love interest for once, but to have a love interest.”
Washington sat down with JETin the midst of filming her second season of ABC’s hit series. The program was inspired by the life of an actual crisis manager, Judy Smith, and was brought to the small screen by Hollywood’s baddest, brown-hued, golden child, Shonda Rhimes. Black women weaving tales, raising funds and starring in shows about ladies of color isn’t totally unheard of… but doing it for a prime-time network, now that’s cause for a round of applause.
TO READ MORE ABOUT KERRY WASHINGTON’S “SCANDAL,” PICK UP THE NEW ISSUE OF JET MAGAZINE, ON SALE TODAY.