Kerry Washington has tried to part ways with Hollywood for decades.
The Emmy-winning actress told W Magazine that she is “always quitting” acting until another great script pulls her back in.
“I have spent a lifetime trying to not be an actor,” Washington said. “I am always quitting this business, and then right when I decide that I’m done is when something extraordinary comes across my desk.”
She explained, “I was really, really done with this business right before I read the script for ‘Ray.’ I was really, really done with this business right before I read the script for ‘The Last King of Scotland.’ I was entirely done with this business before reading the script for ‘Scandal.’ This is what happens again and again.”
Washington, who currently stars in the Hulu series “UnPrisoned,” said that she “immediately” was drawn to the script for the show.
“I think the circumstances of her life are so fascinating,” Washington said. “When I read it, I fell in love with the material immediately.”
The “Little Fires Everywhere” producer/star told Marie Claire earlier this year that she is extremely selective over which roles she takes.
“Even in the beginning of my career, I would say I’d rather work another shift at the restaurant than do a movie that is going to be bad for women or Black people,” Washington said. “Part of being an artist, being a creative person, is constantly being willing to be a beginner and do things you’ve never done, be in situations you’ve never been, stretch, grow. I’m so attracted to that kind of work, but it is also so fucking scary.”
Washington called Shonda Rhimes’ hit series “Scandal” “part of something transformative and culturally significant” at the time. Washington led the show for seven seasons before later taking on what she described to IndieWire as the most challenging role of her career with the play “American Son,” which was adapted into a Netflix film.
“I’m finding a little bit that the characters I’ve played have really been detoxes for each other in a way, so I just dive right into the next thing,” she said in 2019. “I felt like (‘American Son’ character) Kendra was very much the un-Olivia Pope (from ‘Scandal’). She was everything that Olivia wasn’t. Most importantly, Olivia chose not to be a mother and becoming a parent requires a level of vulnerability that we could not fold into her character. Playing Kendra allowed me to really explore motherhood.”
Washington continued, “It was really good for me and for my tool box to shake Olivia off and transform into her opposite. But also, being a Black mother of Black children, it made me think about my own children, and what it means to try to raise them in a world that isn’t so safe. So it was very personal and political for me.”