Kerry Washington chats with Janet Mock against the backdrop of the Santa Monica Mountains, as the duo hikes along Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. Washington covers the new issue of Marie Claire US, exploring life after ‘Scandal’ in the November 2018 Power Issue. Thomas Whiteside is behind the lens for the issue on newsstands October 18.
Her production company, Simpson Street (the Bronx block her mother grew up on), has a slew of television and film projects on its slate, including The Mothers, a Warner Brothers film adaptation of Brit Bennett’s acclaimed novel; Universal’s workplace comedy 24-7, costarring Eva Longoria; psychological thriller The Perfect Mother; and an adaptation of Celeste Ng’s best-selling novel Little Fires Everywhere for Hulu, in which she costars alongside fellow executive producer Reese Witherspoon.
Washington’s most recent fame came in her producing and acting roles in the 2016 HBO film ‘Confirmation’ regarding the 1991 Clarence Thomas Supreme Court hearings. Speaking of her role in ‘Scandal’, Washington hits a high note on the subject of expressing her black woman identity:
“I didn’t feel like I had to twist myself into some other understanding of what black womanness is supposed to look like, because Shonda [Rhimes] got me. Just her existence and working with her so intimately changed the idea of what power looked like in this business.”
“Honestly, I think about power as more of an internal phenomenon. I tend to think about empowerment for myself so that I have the courage and ability to act on the ideologies and priorities that resonate with me,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to cultivate a sense of empowerment within myself without seeking approval from outside sources, which is hard to do as an actor, which is part of why producing is so important and which is where some of my freedom, or learning, to take that sense of freedom and bring it to a larger audience and larger space has a lot to do with having my employer be a black woman. Right? I didn’t feel like I had to twist myself into some other understanding of what black womanness is supposed to look like, because Shonda [Rhimes, Scandal creator and showrunner] got me, and so I could get closer and closer to my truth because I wasn’t worried about going to work on Monday and somebody being like, ‘Why would you talk about that?’ Just her existence and working with her so intimately changed the idea of what power looked like in this business.”
Washington is also one of the founding members of Hollywood’s ‘Time’s Up’ and how the group’s mission is to support existing groups and organizations already doing significant advocacy work. “Our job is to leverage whatever power we have to support that work, grow that work, shed light on that work,” the power player soccer mom explains.