EXCLUSIVE: Kerry Washington Isn’t Perfect. No Really, She’s Not.
I am not a journalist. Not by training, desire, nor experience. I’m simply very inquisitive. I have an insatiable desire to understand the making of a woman’s mind. And as we all know, one great question can lead to an ‘Ah ha’ moment for all of us. So, I’m inquisitive, if nothing else.
When I found out I was to interview Kerry Washington, I was nervous. Why? It’s not exactly clear. For sure it had something to do with Scandal, Django, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, The Last King of Scotland…She’s had so many successes. What was most frightening, was the thought that she might be perfect. That each success came from a place of perfection, maybe even magic. Perhaps I was nervous that she was simply better than I. So I stumbled through thirty-four minutes of the most painful and clumsy interview, only to find out that I was wrong. Dead wrong. Kerry Washington isn’t perfect. She’s successful simply because she is a scholar in all ways, of all matters that concern her, at all times. It’s not perfection, it’s actually professionalism we’re seeing.
I said, ‘I think you’re perfect’.
…And then she said, I think you’re wrong! I think it looks that way. But the reality is we all have nerves and moments of insecurity. We all wonder at times ‘What am I doing here? What is going on?’ But If I said to myself that I’m only going to show up, or speak or be visible when I’m perfect, I would never get out of bed. I (show up) to be of service and to be used for something greater. It’s about knowing what I am in this moment is what I need to be. And going for it. The “imperfections” are actually the gift.
I gravitate towards things that scare me. I feel that’s where I’ll grow.
Growing up in a family that emphasized intellect over aesthetics, Kerry learned early that everything of importance starts from being curious.
I am a learner. As kids, we were encouraged to be curious and to be hungry for information. If you expressed an interest in something, that interest was fostered. One cousin was interested in Birds of Prey so we all went to lectures at the Museum of Natural History about hawks and eagles, and we all had binoculars. I believed not in just having information but in my ability to gain information.
The more you look in the mirror, the less beautiful you become.
My mom is a really beautiful woman. It’s just an aesthetic fact. But her focus in raising me was never on aesthetics. There was more focus on developing your inside beauty than there was on outside beauty. She’s a retired professor of education, so obviously education was the foundation of my upbringing and the culture of my household. The women in my family have courageously gone after the advancement of their intellect and their careers.
For Kerry, there was a process to being beautiful. It wasn’t simply second nature.
I came into beauty and fashion much later in life – like after college and when I had to walk red carpets. I called friends of mine who I knew had real wisdom in this area like Tracee Ellis Ross (an actress and the daughter Dianna Ross) and I became a student of fashion and beauty. I wanted to soak in those relationships to understand and be informed. Even now, when I go to fashion shows and look at the clothing, hair and makeup, it’s like going to an opening at the Met or a Broadway show. It’s a moment to take in artistry.
She learned to be beautiful
It took me forever to allow my makeup artist to do bright red lips! Sometimes it takes someone saying to you, ‘Do you know how beautiful your lips are? You should try wearing red lipstick.’ You can learn how to embrace your own unique beauty, celebrate your unique gifts and then have confidence around them.
A character will come into my life when I have something to learn from that character or something really important to discover about life, myself or someone I love.
Django – There’s a quiet dignity about that character that at times in my life I’ve known something about. She believed in love and life at a time when it was illegal for two Black people to be married. Still, she believed in humanity.
Scandal – It’s so much fun to play someone that is so much smarter than I am – professionally. Olivia has a great deal of intellectual curiosity, an enormous amount of compassion and interest in how people become who they are. It’s a similar interest that led me to acting.
I Think I Love My Wife – That girl…She really taught me a lot because she was so lost. She had let her life pass her by. I also understood her adventurous spirit and her desire to embrace life and have a good time. I don’t often bring that part of myself to screen.
I wanted to work with a company that wasn’t invested in telling women they’re ‘less than’. I feel like a lot of companies make you feel like you have to buy this product because you’re not pretty enough – and if you use this product you’ll be pretty. As Neutrogena’s Creative Consultant, I’m not going to come out with a “Kerry” product line tomorrow. Neutrogena has always been a company that’s invested in being thorough and in women being the best versions of themselves. That is a message I stand behind.
What is beauty?
Beauty is about knowing yourself and celebrating what’s best about you. Everybody’s got something to celebrate.
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Jodie has worked in the entertainment and fashion industry for over ten years. Before becoming the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of DooBop, Jodie worked as the Director of Public Relations at Zac Posen, bringing niche culture to the popular eye. As the creator of Georgia, an upscale line of body products, she knows first hand what women need to feel beautiful, but more importantly, that inner beauty is the ultimate pursuit.