Will Hollywood Let Kerry Washington Be Great?

September 12, 2013  |  

Stanning for Kerry Washington is just what Black girls do. How could we not? Have you seen her wardrobe? Have you seen the way that blowout wafts in the wind? Have you gotten into the classy brand of authority she exerts over her team when she’s not getting hot and heavy with the President of the United States in some random closet (on screen, of course)? There’s too much going for this woman for the rest of the world not to love her too. It seems like Kerry Washington’s time has come.

A few months ago there were full-blown internet campaigns to get the star of TV’s No. 1 drama on a magazine cover. Now, with an Emmy nomination under her belt, Washington has slowly transitioned into a cover girl. She graces the cover of Glamour and Flare this month alone. Last week she made her New York Fashion Week debut as a guest judge on the Project Runway finale. The slow simmer of Washington’s career could be turning into a boil.

Washington possesses the beauty, grace and talent to become a Julia Roberts remix the world never saw coming. Unfortunately, the things that make her great are also the things that make her rising to mega-stardom unlikely on paper. Let’s rundown the starlet checklist:

Young. Her beauty may be timeless, but Washington is 36 years old. That’s halfway to the retirement home by Hollywood standards.

Hot. I know, I know, who would dare question Washington’s sex appeal? But the sexiness Hollywood covets isn’t as subtle as Washington’s brand. Studio execs and magazine editors seem to like their sexiness with a side of desperation.

Shallow. Kerry doesn’t subscribe to the celebrity school of “my presence is a present.” She has a brain. And she’s not shy about letting the world know it exists. Or voicing her qualms with injustice. A celebrity that not only speaks on issues, but educates herself about them before forming an opinion… where they do that at?

Scandalous. The public likes stars to want their approval and attention. Kerry isn’t going for it. No tabloid fodder here. We found out she was married before we knew she was dating. And she admits, she didn’t join Twitter until she met with a digital social media consultant.

So, Washington doesn’t meet today’s requirements for superstardom. But, isn’t that a good thing? I think the world is more than ready for a starlet who is entertaining and aspirational. For all the decades of issues with Black women, maybe Hollywood is ready to celebrate a smart actress with class. Even if the entertainment industry isn’t ready, it seems Washington refuses to be denied. Scandal is set to take over televisions sets across the nation on October 3rd.

If Washington becomes the star she should be, my faith in Hollywood will be restored. OK, maybe not restored, but I’ll at least give them the benefit of the doubt from here on out. Pinky swear. What do you say Hollywood? Do we have a deal?

C. Cleveland covers professional development topics and entrepreneurial rebels who blaze their own career paths. She explores these stories and more on The Red Read, Twitter (@CleveOutLoud) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).

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