Kerry Washington Says “Scandal” Didn’t Want To Address Olivia’s Race At First

- By Bossip Staff

Kerry Washington Covers Glamour Magazine

Congratulations to Kerry Washington; the actress is Glamour Magazine’s cover star!

Inside the magazine, Washington tackles a number of questions ranging from inquiries about her rituals to introspection about what drives her. We were most taken with a question she was asked about the conversations Olivia and her father have about what it means to be African-American in the U.S.

Here’s her response, via Glamour:

Kerry: In the first season it was as if Olivia Pope was raceless. There was no denying that Olivia was a black woman, because I’m a black woman, playing her in badass white trench coats that call to attention the fact that I’m not looking like anybody else on television. But we didn’t talk about her identity as a black person.

[Since then] the writers have become more and more willing to deal with race. When Olivia was kidnapped, it was not lost on me that the fictional president of the United States was willing to go to war to save one black woman at a time when hundreds of black women were missing in Nigeria and we were begging the world to pay attention. Shonda was saying, “The life of a black woman matters.”

With her dad—he is trying to instill in her this generational learning about what it means to be a person of color in the United States. And Olivia is at odds with balancing the truth of his understanding with her ability to achieve things he was never able to.

Do you agree with Kerry’s assessment of the show? We remember the time that “Scandal” started coming on TV and she and “Being Mary Jane” star Gabrielle Union were finally two black women lead actresses on primetime, but at the time the big controversy was about them both being “homewreckers”. In a sense we can see what she means about her being presented as raceless — but we’re not sure if the audience was able to process it that way.

We also enjoyed what Kerry had to say about her actress role models:

Kerry: Jane Fonda, Cicely Tyson, and Diahann Carroll—those women are my lighthouses. Because their light was shining ahead, I knew where to go. They kept showing up for their art and values and that made me feel like I could bring all of myself to my work.

If society is telling us to look the other way, and you, as anybody from a disenfranchised community, are saying, “My story matters,” that is an act of activism. When Cicely Tyson wore her natural hair on television, it wasn’t considered beautiful for a black woman to wear her natural, textured hair. She made it mainstream. With Diahann Carroll, it was an act of activism just for her to be the lead on her own show, Julia. Art often leads to the opening of our thoughts as a society.

Powerful stuff right? Will you be picking up the issue?

Glamour Magazine/Steven Pan/Instagram

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