Kerry Washington: Woman on Top

Kerry Washington: Woman on Top

With roles on the breakout TV series Scandal and in the controversial film DjangoUnchained on her résumé, Kerry Washington is a force to reckon with in Hollywood—and that's just the way she likes it

by Kevin Powell, May 09, 2013

Kerry Washington: Woman on Top

Kerry Washington, our Scandalous March 2013 cover story

relationship with the [president] or that made it seem like I had an insider view on the Obama presidency. I thought that would be so disrespectful and so against all the work that I had done,” she says.

But after meeting with Rhimes and being told the president on the show would be a White Republican, “I’m in!” was her enthusiastic response.

Frequently in the fairy tale that is her true story, Kerry Washington has been more “in” than “out” with various projects and causes. To wit, she spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention; she is a proud feminist who champions the causes of women and girls; she is a Movado spokesmodel; and she one of President Barack Obama’s appointees to his Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

So what’s next?

Kerry isn’t certain where she’ll go from here. Her next film, We the Peeples (a Black version of Meet the Parents that allows the actress to show her “goofball” side”) will be released in May. She says she knows she needs to write more. Other aspirations include starring in and producing a biopic on the life of 1970s political activist Angela Davis and to one day be the head the National Endowment for the Arts. That day, it was easy to envision her becoming an actress/director on a project, just like Barbra Streisand, one of her childhood sheroes. Asking her about power after watching her wield it comfortably on the Scandal set, it is one of the few times she hesitates before very thoughtfully replying, “Power to me has always been about choices. So I never thought of myself as not having power because I’ve always [exercised] my right to say no.” She continues by acknowledging that in Hollywood, however, true power can come in the ability to say yes, as in approving and moving forward with projects, despite what others might think. “Having the power to green-light something for the sake of green-lighting something is not what I’m interested in. But if I can be of service in this town by adding to the voices of diversity—diversity of thought, diversity of experience, being a woman, being a person of color—then I want to be of service in that way.”

Kerry Washington has moved far beyond the point of just being of service to Hollywood. She’s now on the fast track to joining such megastar Black actresses as Dorothy Dandridge, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Halle Berry. The little girl from the Bronx with the big imagination is now officially in a position of power—on her on terms.

Kevin Powell is an award-winning writer, public speaker, and political activist. Through the years Kevin has written for EBONY, Esquire, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Essence, Rolling Stone, The Huffington Post and Vibe, where he served as a senior writer. He is also the author of 11 books, including his latest, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays. Follow him on Twitter @kevin_powell, or email him at

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