Kerry Washington's A Great Role Model & Here's Why

Kerry Washington graces the cover of the April issue of Marie Claire, and opened up about her past in a special interview with Lena Dunham. Kerry Washington talked about her issues with her self-image when she was young, and how she pushed through it to improve herself. She said, "I didn't grow up thinking I was pretty; there was always a girl that was prettier than me." The Scandal star went on to say, though, that feeling unconfident about her looks made her work even harder to be and funny and intelligent. Though the real-life Olivia Pope is known for being very private about her personal life, she always speaks out about crucial issues like roles for black women in Hollywood and the importance of self-esteem for young women, proving time and again she's a great role model in Hollywood.

Going on, Washington talked about her daughter, Isabelle, and how she always wants her to know that she has a voice:

I just want [my daughter Isabelle] to know that she's heard. Really heard... When I think about any of the missteps in my life that I've made, all of which I'm grateful for, it's because I just so wanted to be truly seen and heard for who I am and was afraid I wasn't or wouldn't be. I see you, I hear you, I'm with you as you are.
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This encouragement for her daughter to speak her mind and be true to herself reflects Washington's attitude about getting work in Hollywood as an African American woman. She spoke to The Hollywood Reporter roundtable for women with Emmy nominations, not mincing words when she spoke about her discriminatory experiences with casting directors:

It’s a little bit different for me because I’ll audition for something and they’ll just decide that they’re not going “ethnic” with a character. People have artistic license … that’s what casting is: fitting the right look to the right character. Whereas you could maybe lose some weight, there’s not really anything I can do, nor would I want to, about being black.

That's the key: nor would she want to change or relinquish her identity to book a gig. And the 37-year-old actress' support extends to other celebrities. Recently, when Guliana Rancic made a comment about singer Zendaya's dreadlocks that was seen as some as racially charged, Washington retweeted Zendaya's passionate, angry, and brilliant response on Twitter. She also spoke out on Twitter about Ferguson, calling the events "devastating."


But her compassionate voice and dedication to awareness goes far beyond the Internet. Even when she's on the red carpet, Washington always is aware of a greater context. When she was asked about her nomination at the 2014 Emmys, which fell on the same day as unarmed black teenager Mike Brown's funeral, Washington was brief but very open, saying that it was "a complicated day for her" as an African American. And though she's private, she spoke to Variety in an interview with Don Cheadle about the responsibility she feels to lend her celebrity to raise awareness for urgent causes, like her work with the Purple Purse campaign which raises awareness about the economic aspects of domestic abuse. "It’s one of the reasons I feel like it’s so important when we do this kind of work to shine the light on the organization but to also encourage our fans to become involved," she said.

Washington's openness about her journey to strength and self-confidence is encouraging. She's clearly found her voice, and though she may feel the same, human insecurities as the rest of us, she's doing her best to increase and highlight the need for the visibility of women. Looks like, as usual, she's handling it.

Images: Getty Images, Marie Claire