Actress Kerry Washington is intelligent, straight-talking, compelling enough to keep us glued to our screens and intriguingly private. So who is she?
Kerry Washington may be one of the most secretive celebrities ever. She doesn’t share photos of her husband or children and never divulges information about her home life. She’s made a huge success of her career and, with the recent birth of her second child, she’s clearly got it all together at home as well. But what’s really impressive about this New York-born star is her refusal to stay silent on the things that matter. She has power, and she wields it in the best way possible.
Kerry has always been interested in the big issues. Raised in a socially conscious household, she was 13 when she was taken to hear the newly free Nelson Mandela speak. And turning 18 wasn’t just about new-found freedom and getting a driving license for her: ‘My becoming a voting citizen was celebrated the way other people would celebrate a Sweet 16. My parents took me out to dinner and we talked about who I was going to vote for,’ she says.
As a teenager Kerry became a safe-sex advocate; she joined an educational group that performed their own sex-education skits in schools and community centres. ‘It was some of the best actor training I’ve ever had,’ she says. ‘We would stay in character after the show and the audience would interact with us. It taught me the importance of really understanding everything about who you’re playing, because you never knew what question was going to come.’
Kerry toyed with the idea of becoming a teacher or psychologist, but she continued to act at university. Afterwards, she dabbled in this and that: she did community and grassroots theatre training, travelled to India and worked as a yoga instructor. But her interest in acting never waned – at the same time she acted in plays and small films, eventually appearing in 2001 as a street-smart mom in Save the Last Dance (with Julia Stiles), which proved to be her breakthrough role. Her star status was elevated to greater heights when she performed opposite Jamie Foxx in the 2004 film Ray. Since then, alongside her huge TV presence, Kerry has been in notable films such as The Last King of Scotland (2006) and the Quentin Tarantino western, Django Unchained (2012). Last year she gave producing a go: she was the executive producer and star of the HBO film Confirmation. She enjoyed it so much that she is now set to produce the drama series Patrol under her new production company, Simpson Street.
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