An Ode To Kerry Washington: Thank You For Repping Black Girls Right

June 4, 2013  |  

From The Grio

I was thinking about Scandal, because my brain is now programmed to anticipate Thursday nights. Officially, I am going through Scandal withdrawal. It’s bad enough when ABC randomly delays a new episode for three weeks, but now I have to go months and I’m not feeling this.

I have what Jay –Z once called “Carrie-fever,” an apt description of the way that women went gaga for HBO’s Sex and the City. My illness has re-surfaced as a stronger strain: “Kerry-fever.” And luckily, it’s contagious.

In May, Kerry graced the cover of Elle magazine. That win was quickly followed by her second Hollywood Reporter cover, on which she appears front and center, and literally a step (or two) above the all-white group of actresses. I can’t think of a better actress to sit, or er, stand in that position right now.

I say that not just because Kerry is a great actress — I call her by her first name, not out of disrespect, but because she’s “the homie” in my head — but because she’s an actress doing what she’s supposed to do when she gets a global platform and people are hanging on her every word: she reps black girls right.

When A-list actress Zoe Saldana gets in front of a microphone, she gets it wrong. In her recent Allure cover story, she’s huffy and defensive about the outcry over her playing Nina Simone in the upcoming biopic, declaring her black pride, then bafflingly dismissing being black as “arbitrary,” seemingly a way to downplay her ethnicity. It’s as though she doesn’t even realize her attitude is part of the outcry.

However, Kerry doesn’t budge on who and what she is or who she represents. In the Hollywood Reporter round-table, Washington and the other actresses discussed how hard it can be for women to land decent roles in Hollywood and the way looks play into it.

Washington addressed the issue of race head on, saying, “It’s a little bit different for me because I’ll audition for something and they’ll just decide that they’re not going ‘ethnic’ with a character, which I hear a lot… Whereas you could maybe lose some weight, there’s not really anything I can do, nor would I want to, about being black.”

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