How Shonda Rhimes Changed Kerry Washington's Views About Powerful Women

Oct 8, 2018 at 1:40 p.m. ET
Shonda Rhimes and Kerry Washington attend ABC's 'Scandal' 100th episode celebration
Image: David Livingston/Getty Images.

Now that Shonda Rhimes' Scandal has ended, star Kerry Washington is moving onto her next projects — of which there are many. In the cover story for Marie Claire's November 2018 issue, Washington speaks about how working with Rhimes has had a lasting impact on how she works as a Black woman in Hollywood.

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“I didn’t feel like I had to twist myself into some other understanding of what black womanness is supposed to look like, because Shonda got me, and so I could get closer and closer to my truth because I wasn’t worried about going to work on Monday and somebody being like, ‘Why would you talk about that?’" Washington told Marie Claire.

Working with Rhimes also helped Washington gain a new understanding of power. "Just her existence and working with her so intimately changed the idea of what power looked like in this business," she said.

For Washington, power is something that comes from within, but having Rhimes as a boss for so long was huge for her development as an actor and producer. “Honestly, I think about power as more of an internal phenomenon," she said. "I tend to think about empowerment for myself so that I have the courage and ability to act on the ideologies and priorities that resonate with me. I’ve always wanted to cultivate a sense of empowerment within myself without seeking approval from outside sources, which is hard to do as an actor, which is part of why producing is so important and which is where some of my freedom, or learning, to take that sense of freedom and bring it to a larger audience and larger space has a lot to do with having my employer be a black woman."

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More: Kerry Washington's New TV Show Will Be Nothing Like Scandal

In her post-Scandal work, Washington will have the chance to imbue her characters and her projects as a producer with this idea of power. According to Marie Claire, Washington's production company, Simpson Street, has a slew of projects on the horizon, including several films and a Hulu adaptation of Celeste Ng's best-selling novel Little Fires Everywhere, in which Washington costars with Reese Witherspoon, who is co-executive producing.

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