Kerry Washington has been up for an Emmy for her role on Scandal a few times now, and while the media wrote about her snub several times, Washington has revealed that she finally feels a shift now that African-American actress Viola Davis took home her deserved trophy for Outstanding Actress in a Drama for her work in How to Get Away with Murder.
During Davis’ Emmy speech, she said, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.”
Washington fully stands by this thought and revealed to Vanity Fair her thoughts on Davis’ historical win.
“There have been a multitude of talented black actresses for a really long time. The opportunities for black actresses have shifted. That’s what’s changed.”
Kerry Washington made her own kind of history for the African-American community. When she was cast in ABC’s Scandal as Olivia Pope, she was the first African American to lead a network television show since the 1974 show Get Christie Love! Washington’s character is far from being perfect, and instead of the lovable sidekick or playing into stereotypes, Washington’s Pope is a multifaceted character.
The Scandal actress spoke to this, saying, “It means that our medium portrays women and people of color as not just being an accessory but being worthy of their own three-dimensional, multi-faceted story… that we don’t have to be perfect, we have to be human and we should have that right.”
During Viola Davis’ speech, she made sure not to forget what actresses like Kerry Washington have done for women of color. She thanked Washington specifically and then went on to thank Gabrielle Union, Taraji P. Henson (who was also nominated in the category), and Halle Berry for pushing women over the line, to which African-American women are held back from succeeding in Hollywood the same way white women do.
When the camera panned over to Washington, she was visibly touched by Davis’ win and her speech, which opened with a quote from Harriet Tubman.
This isn’t the first time Kerry Washington has opened up like this. In an interview with Marie Claire, Washington admitted that she didn’t think she was pretty growing up, and that to her, there was always someone prettier than she was. Because she couldn’t be the pretty girl that everyone else aspired to be, this made it easier for Kerry to develop attributes that would make her the woman that she is today.
The actress explained, “I learned to be smart and tried to be funny and develop the inside of me, because I felt like that’s what I had.”
Washington, who has a young daughter named Isabelle, hopes that her daughter will have even better opportunities that she did growing up.
“I just want [her] to know that she’s heard. Really heard, because I feel like that is what we all really want.”
Since being cast in Scandal, Washington has gone on to star in A Thousand Words, Django Unchained, and Peeples. She is also playing the role of Anita Hill in the television movie Confirmation, which deals with the sexual assault allegations that Anita Hill made against Judge Clarence Thomas.
Top nominated honors include Washington’s 2014 nomination for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series. In 2014 and 2013, she was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. In 2015, she won a Vanguard Award at the GLAAD Media Awards.
[Photo by Larry Busacca / Getty Images]