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Kerry Washington Bio
Kerry Washington (born January 31, 1977) is an American actress. Since 2012, Washington has gained wide public recognition for starring in the ABC drama Scandal, a Shonda Rhimes series in which she plays Olivia Pope, a crisis management expert to politicians and power brokers in Washington DC. For her role, she has been nominated twice for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series.
Washington is also known for her roles as Della Bea Robinson, in the film Ray (2004), as Kay in The Last King of Scotland (2006), as Alicia Masters in the live-action Fantastic Four films of 2005 and 2007, and as Broomhilda von Schaft in Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained (2012). She has also starred in the critically acclaimed independent films Our Song (2000), The Dead Girl (2006), Mother and Child (2009) and Night Catches Us (2010).
Washington got her Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card as a requirement for a commercial that she starred in. Washington made her screen debut in the ABC telefilm Magical Make-Over (1994). She was in the cast of the 1996 PBS sketch comedy-style educational series Standard Deviants, and she appeared in the short “3D” and the feature film Our Song in 2000. She went on to appear in several movies, including Save the Last Dance (2001) and The Human Stain (2003). In 2002 she played Chris Rock‘s love interest in the spy thriller Bad Company, a film that represented a turning point for her, in that it was the first time in her career that she had made enough money annually to qualify for health insurance under SAG.
In 2004, she played the female lead in Spike Lee‘s She Hate Me, and she received strong reviews for her performance. After 2004, she held parts in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Little Man (2006), I Think I Love My Wife (2007), and as a wife of 1970s Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the UK historical drama The Last King of Scotland (2006). Washington has also appeared in the recurring role of Chelina Hall on the ABC television series Boston Legal, and in several episodes of the A&E cable-TV series 100 Centre Street. In 2007, she co-directed and appeared in the music video for hip-hop artist Common‘s song, “I Want You“, the fourth single from his album Finding Forever and became a spokesperson for L’Oréal, appearing in commercials and ads alongside fellow actresses, Scarlett Johansson and Eva Longoria, Gong Li, Michelle Yeoh, Dian Sastrowardoyo, Aishwarya Rai, Maya Karin and model Doutzen Kroes.
Washington narrated the critically acclaimed documentary about the New Orleans-based teenage TBC Brass Band, From the Mouthpiece on Back. She also appears in Maxwell‘s “Bad Habits” video. In 2009 Washington performed in The People Speak, a documentary feature film that uses dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans, based on historian Howard Zinn‘s A People’s History of the United States.
In 2010, she made her Broadway debut in David Mamet‘s Race, alongside James Spader, David Alan Grier, and Richard Thomas. She also appeared in Tyler Perry‘s 2010 film For Colored Girls. In October 2011, it was confirmed that she would star in Quentin Tarantino‘s film Django Unchained, which was released in 2012 and received widespread critical acclaim. She was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in June 2012 along with 175 other individuals.
In 2013, Washington ranked No. 2 in People magazine‘s 100 Most Beautiful people and was named Woman of the Year by Glamour magazine. The same year, she ranked No. 20 on Forbes magazine’s annual list of the highest-paid actors in television and was announced as the new face of Neutrogena skin care. Washington hosted Saturday Night Live on November 2, 2013, where she impersonated Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey in a cold opening sketch that satirized criticism of Saturday Night Live for not having had any black female cast members for many years.
Since April 2012, Washington has starred in the ABC drama series Scandal, created by Shonda Rimes, as Olivia Pope, a crisis manager who runs her own crisis management firm called Pope & Associates in Washington, D.C.. In this position, she works for high-profile figures, most notably the President of the United States, who is also her lover. The show has been a commercial and critical success, and has been called one of the most talked about drama series on Facebook and Twitter by Buzzfeed. Its success has also drawn attention to racial questions in television, as Washington is the first African-American actress to lead an American network drama series since 1974, when Teresa Graves starred in the crime drama Get Christie Love! on ABC. Tanzina Vega of The New York Times has written that Washington’s casting “has prompted discussion among academics and fans of the show about whether Scandal represents a new era of post-racial television, in which cast members are ethnically diverse but are not defined by their race or ethnicity.”
Washington’s performance has earned positive reviews, and in 2013, she won the award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series at the 44th NAACP Image Awards and was also presented with the NAACP President’s Award. The same year, she was named “Favorite actress” and Scandal “Favorite Drama” of the year at TV Guide‘s Magazine Fan Favorite Awards and was also crowned 2013’s “TV Star of the Year” by the editors of the magazine. For her work in the second season of Scandal, Washington was nominated for an Emmy at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards and 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, becoming the first African-American woman to be nominated in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 18 years. She was also nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series as well as a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Drama Series.
In addition to Washington’s acting, her costumes as Olivia Pope have attracted positive attention, prompting Vanity Fair to name the character one of The Top Ten Best-Dressed TV Characters in 2013. According to the show’s costume designer, Lyn Paolo, the success of Olivia Pope’s wardrobe is based on “this idea of having [her character] wear such soft, feminine colors in a man’s world”. In 2014, Washington and Paolo won the Influencer Award at the 2014 Ace Fashion Awards for Olivia Pope’s stylish clothes on the show.
In 2014, Washington announced her involvement in Malcolm D. Lee‘s Is He the One? a romantic comedy from MGM. She also announced that she would be playing the title role in Confirmation, an HBO movie directed by Rick Famuyiwa about Anita Hill‘s testimony during Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination.
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