How Kerry Washington learned to speak up for herself

Actor Kerry Washington is on a hot streak. After earning raves for her work in the TV series “Scandal,” she is now preparing for a meaty role on Broadway. But success wasn’t a sure thing, and Washington learned early she had to speak up for herself to get what she wants, she tells Michelle Miller in an interview for “CBS Sunday Morning,” to be broadcast October 7.

Washington fell in love with acting by going to Broadway shows as a child, and she said she learned from a dance teacher at the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club to make her own opportunities after she was overlooked for a part.

He told her to speak up.

“I’m a hustler,” Washington told Miller. “If I sit around and wait for people to create magic in my life, then I’ll be waiting until the day I die. But I get to bring my own black girl magic into the world as best as I see fit. And that’s what gives me the life I have today.”

Washington is the star of “American Son,” a new Broadway play about a mother and father trying to get information about their missing teen. She told Miller she knew instantly she wanted to play the mother.

Washington has been acting for 20 years, and like many women finds the #MeToo movement challenging, but sees progress. Indeed, in January she joined fellow actors and producers to start Time’s Up, to combat sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.

“That revelation and awakening that we’ve had as a culture has been hard for a lot of us because so many of us have had histories of abuse and assault and harassment at work or in our personal lives,” Washington said. “It’s hard not to be in a state of PTSD a lot of the time.

“But the good thing that has come out of it is that there’s more truth-telling, and there is more truth, and that we have been able to come together and say, ‘Enough is enough. Literally, time is up. We can’t have this anymore – whether it be in the Weinstein Company or the White House.’

“There’s no turning back.”

Washington also talks with Miller about her childhood; breaking into acting; her work on “Scandal”; and how she views the future.




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