FINALLY: Kerry Washington Is The First Black Woman To Cover Vanity Fair In Nearly 10 Years (Why That’s A Problem)

July 2, 2013  |  

Finally. Kerry is giving us life with her Vanity Fair cover, and in a pool with wet hair nonetheless! That’s huge. Yes, some of us DO swim and have the talents deserving of covering even this all-vanilla-everything magazine.

You know, I don’t even read Vanity Fair like that, though I’ve flipped through a few of their issues here and there. But I always knew that the magazine was an authority on pop culture, especially what’s hot and what’s not in Hollywood. And maybe that was what was always so frustrating about the publication. While a force in bringing some of the hottest new stars to the forefront of mainstream view, Vanity Fair has managed to neglect putting a black face on their magazine as if our stars aren’t doing great things, including bringing home Oscars (which we’ve been doing consistently for the last few years).

The last time a black woman was on the cover of the magazine was in 2005 when Beyoncé was taking over the world, and that was basically the blackest issue they ever had because it pointed out the “Kings and Queens” of Hip Hop. Random? Why yes. Two years later, the next black woman to cover was….Beyoncé again, this time with her Dreamgirls cast in Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy (But of course, no Jennifer Hudson, despite the fact that she carried that movie). Black men have showed up on the cover, but mostly for sad reasons, including scandal (Tiger Woods) and death (Michael Jackson). As Dodai Stewart and the folks at Jezebel made clear, only stars with blonde hair and blue eyes who star in movies that are based off of young adult books can get on the cover of this magazine, and many others like it. That’s a shame.

So Kerry Washington covering the August 2013 issue truly is a big deal. Especially since they point out that she is clearly “The Most Intriguing Star on The Most Intriguing Show.” Washington has carried films for years now with not only her clear acting skills, but also just a face (you know that beclouded face she makes when she’s unveiled a major secret/tragedy/bad news/some form of ratchetry). A face full of gripping emotion, sexuality and more. It’s that face and her talent which have kept Gladiators glued to Scandal, and have allowed her to find success in both indie films as well as big-budget movies as well.

She’s been “close” to the cover before, appearing in a spread with other rising Hollywood stars on that flap they give to those who are supposed to be on the cover but “don’t fit.” You know the one. It’s usually folded behind the coveted cover, sitting next to an ad for Gucci or Estee Lauder makeup. Raven-Symone, Anthony Mackie, Rashida JonesAdepero OduyeQuvenzhané Wallis, Zoe Saldana, Jada Pinkett Smith and Angela Bassett have all found themselves behind that dreaded flap as fresh faces in Hollywood who were clearly good, but not good enough to Vanity Fair. It seems that they’ve finally had a change of heart, even if just temporarily.

As more and more cover opportunities come in for Washington, from Elle to The Hollywood Reporter, Parade and more, we’re hoping Vanity Fair and other “mainstream” publications will be more open to feature black women on covers in various realms who are doing great things. To think, after all these years there has been no Venus and Serena? No Rihanna? No Michelle Obama? No Gabby Douglas? NO OPRAH? They are some of the most known. To deny the contributions even these few ladies have made out of many to pop culture is to admit you don’t care that times are changing. And with a black president and first lady and a country where minorities are slowly but surely outnumbering white folks, it’s about time more magazines start. Just saying. Kudos to you Kerry!

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