Kerry Washington is covering the May issue of Glamour, and she has a specific message: Black Women Matter.
During her cover interview, Washington of course spoke about her role as Olivia Pope on Scandal before opening up about the current political climate and the fact that Olivia’s race hasn’t always been a focal point on the show.
“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,” Washington said.
But given the state of affairs in America, Washington says the writers have been more deliberate in her character’s storyline.
“[Since then] the writers have become more and more willing to deal with race,” she added. “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 [Rhimes, creator] was saying, ‘The life of a black woman matters.’”
Washington, 40, also stressed the importance for minority and marginalized groups in this country to band together during a time such as now.
“That idea of holding each other’s hands at the Women’s March — it feels like we are being invited to do that every day. So many of us are feeling attacked, whether it’s a woman’s right to choose or headstones in a Jewish cemetery, immigrants being deported or banned. So many of us feel the need to protect and defend our democracy. And march toward the dream of being ‘We the people,’” she said.
“So that’s exciting, scary, and frustrating. We’re awake. We are awake more than ever before, and we have to stay awake. Can I say one more thing? For democracy to work, everybody has to have a voice. It’s not about demonizing other voices. It’s important that there be real conversations across the aisle. There are people on the opposite end of the political spectrum who think that I’m part of a left-wing propaganda machine. It makes me sad that people would think that, because I believe for democracy to work, there has to be diversity of thought.”