Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington Tells Oprah, ‘Anita Hill Wanted Nothing To Do With Me’

Kerry Washington will star in the highly buzzed about Confirmation as Anita Hill, airing this weekend, April 16, on HBO. The Scandal star revealed to Oprah during a Q&A for OWN’s new season of SuperSoul Sessions that Hill refused to have a conversation with the actress about portraying her.

“In the beginning, Anita Hill wanted nothing to do with me,” Washington says. “She didn’t want to talk to me. She didn’t want to go through this experience. She was like, ‘I’m not interested.’ ”

Hill became a national figure in 1991 when a private interview she gave to the FBI was later leaked to the press. In the interview, she accused her former boss Clarence Thomas, who was going through Senate confirmation hearings for a seat on the Supreme Court, of sexual harassment. During the early 80s, Thomas was her supervisor at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They worked together until 1983. Other women came forward with similar allegations against Thomas, but were not called to testify. Thomas was successfully appointed to the Supreme Court.

Back in 2014, Anita Hill sat down with The Huff Post to explain why the thought of giving up never even crossed her mind. Check out the clip below.

Anita Hill: 'Giving Up Was Not The Option'

Washington serves as executive producer on Confirmation, which will highlight how Hill’s testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee captivated the nation. The Wire’s Wendell Pierce takes on the role of Clarence Thomas, co-starring alongside Jennifer Hudson, Eric Stonestreet, Greg Kinnear, Grace Gummer, Treat Williams, Zoe Lister-Jones, and Dylan Baker.

The notoriously private Washington revealed to Oprah that she was able to persuade Hill to participate in the project by underscoring the similarities of their lives, particularly as it pertains to a loss of privacy.

“One of the ways that I was able to convince her that I was not out to exploit her — that I had a lot of compassion for what she had gone through — was that I said to her, ‘I too… struggle with the loss of privacy, and I know what it’s like to show up for your purpose in life and have the unfortunate result of that be that you’ve lost a big part of what belonged to you, ” Washington says.

As E! News notes, Hill is now a professor of social policy, law, and women’s studies at Brandeis University. She was the subject of the 2013 documentary, Anita, and has received numerous awards.

“She changed the world and put sexual harassment on the stage and is a feminist icon; I just do what I want to do for a living. But that idea of losing your privacy is one that I deeply identify with, with her,” Washington says. “I fight to maintain mine.”

In 2010, Thomas’ wife Virginia Thomas called Hill and left a message asking her to apologize for the nearly 20-year old event.

“Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas,” the message said. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day.”

Hill offered no apology, instead, she turned the voice message over to the Brandeis University Department of Public Safety, which then turned it over to the FBI.

“I certainly thought the call was inappropriate,” Hill said in a statement to CNN issued by Brandeis. “I have no intention of apologizing because I testified truthfully about my experience and I stand by that testimony.”

The law professor has been reasserting her voice in preparation for the release of Confirmation. Appearing Monday on Today, Hill told Savannah Guthrie, “It’s important for us, I think, to relive the story and continue to learn the lessons from it.” She added, “That’s why the film is important and having a younger audience — 25 years is a long time. An entire generation has grown up and has never really witnessed this event.”

Check out Anita Hill’s chat with Today in the clip below.

Catch Kerry Washington in Confirmation on Saturday, April 16 at 8:00 p.m. on HBO.


[Image courtesy Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP]

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