The star of ABC’s Scandal, Kerry Washington, was all smiles as she attended the Oscars, hosted by former I Think I Love My Wife co-star, Chris Rock. Decked out in a black and white leather Versace dress, Washington was ready to take on the question everyone silently asked: why’d she choose to attend?
The #OscarsSoWhite Controversy
The lack of diversity at the Oscars has remained a hot topic over the years, but this nomination season was scandalized by an apparent snub of African American actors in all major award categories. A-Lister George Clooney even commented on the issue, pointing out the limited amount of roles, especially those of quality, for minority actors. Clooney claimed the Academy was clearly “moving in the wrong direction.”
Others chimed in including Sylvester Stallone, nominated for Best Supporting actor in the film Creed, who offered to boycott the event before deciding to make his appearance.
After a very public cry to boycott the Oscars by industry stars like Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee, few African American thespians were expected to attend the big night. But amid the #OscarsSoWhite controversy following this year’s nominations, Kerry Washington made it clear she feels most influential from the inside, not by boycotting.
During ABC’s red carpet pre-show, Washington, an Oscar presenter, confided in Robin Roberts her reasons for attending the most talked about event.
“A lot of people have asked me why I’m here tonight, and the thing I’ve been thinking about is, if you look at the history of movements, the history of change, a lot of voices are needed at the table. I really respect and actually admire some of the people who are not here tonight. I really get it. But for me, I felt like my voice, in my heart, my voice is best used at the table. As a new member of the academy, I want to make sure there’s institutional change so that we never have a year like this again, so that we can be as inclusive as possible.”
Kerry Washington is not only a rising film and television star, but also a community activist and women’s advocate. She has been recognized for her efforts in discussing minority and women’s rights as well as abuse. In 2012, she was a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention, and she has had an active role in the global movement to end violence against women and girls. Like her onscreen character, Olivia Pope, she’s somewhat of a gladiator.
Now a member of the Academy, Kerry Washington seems excited for the impending changes announced in January by president, Cheryl Boone. The Academy Award group plans to make drastic changes to the panel by including more women and members of other diverse groups before the year 2020.
“It’s about women, it’s about people of color,… it’s about age. It’s about making sure that our films and the awards we give for films represent humanity,” Washington stated.
A Def New Awards Show for All
Meanwhile, several actors and entertainers chose to attend Russell Simmons’ first awards ceremony, the All Def Awards. The All Def Awards honored snubbed blockbusters like Creed and Straight Outta Compton. Sanaa Lathan (The Perfect Guy) and Michael B. Jordan (Creed) were awarded for delivering stellar character performances. Amber Rose received a “Goldie” for… being Amber Rose. Will Smith was recognized for a Lifetime Achievement Award, and Norman Lear for the Vanguard Award.
The event was hosted by Chris Rock’s brother, Tony Rock. Although held days earlier, it aired at the same time as the Oscars event. Kerry Washington did not attend.
[Image by Al Powers/Invision/AP]