“What makes me upset is when people say, 'As an actor you shouldn't have a voice.' I have a voice as an American. Just because other people are listening as a result of the fact that I'm an actor, it's not my business to silence myself.” Kerry Washington
Making her feature film debut with the critically acclaimed independent film Our Song (2000) and her studio picture debut in the musical drama Save the Last Dance (2001), Kerry Washington enjoyed the spotlight in 2004 thanks to the breakout role of Houston singer Della Bea Robinson, the wife of legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles (played by Jamie Foxx) in the Oscar-winning biopic Ray. She subsequently gained even more exposure for portraying blind sculptress Alicia Masters, the romantic interest of The Thing (played by Michael Chiklis), in the film version of the Marvel’s superheroes comic, Fantastic Four (2005).
Washington has starred in such films as Lift (2001), Bad Company (2002), The Human Stain (2003), She Hate Me (2004) and Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005). She recently portrayed Ugandan dictator Idi Amin's (played by Forest Whitaker) wife in the Academy Award-winning film The Last King of Scotland (2006) and played man-eater Nikki, who tempts Chris Rock's family-man character, in the newly-released romantic drama/comedy I Think I Love My Wife (2007). As for her upcoming film projects, Washington will reprise her Fantastic Four role in its next installment, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. She is also set to star in Life Is Hot in Cracktown (with Brandon Routh, Shannyn Sossamon, Evan Ross and Lara Flynn Boyle) and Lakeview Terrace (alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Ashton Kutcher).
More personally, the 5’ 4½” tall, youthful, talented and gorgeous actress is the new spokesperson for L'Oreal and was engaged to actor David Moscow (born November 14, 1974). The couple ended their two-year engagement in February 2007.
Childhood and Family:
In the Bronx, New York, Kerry Washington was born on January 31, 1977. The daughter of a real estate broker, Kerry left public school to attend junior high and high school at the Spence School for Girls in Manhattan and graduated in 1994. In 1998, she received a theater degree from The George Washington University.
When she is not busy filming, Kerry is an active supporter of the Creative Coalition, a group whose goal is to raise awareness of First Amendment Rights. She is also active in Adopt-A-Classroom, a New York City-based program. Additionally, she has appeared in a few of the Standard Deviants Learning series videos.
Fantastic Four Sculptress
“I think part of what draws me to acting is that from a young age, I've been aware of the different dynamics between people, of how socioeconomics affect behavior, or geography or education, from a real social-sciences perspective. So I didn't come to this work to do just one thing. I want to do it all. It's important I do work I can feel good about. As actors, we're always trying to break out of whatever box we're in, and I'd rather be breaking out of the respected actor box than the video ho box.” Kerry Washington
Following her graduation from the Spence School for Girls, Kerry Washington made her first on-screen appearance in the ABC after-school special Magical Make-Over in 1994. She followed it up with appearances in the 1996 PBS sketch comedy-style educational series “Standard Deviants.”
Meanwhile, during her study at George Washington University, Washington performed with the local theater community and founded Shades of the Fine Arts, a support system for people of color in the arts. After graduation, she flew to India and stayed there for three months to immerse herself in a foreign culture and touch-up on her yoga skills.
Returning to America, Washington landed her first feature film, writer-director Jim McKay's Sundance-screened Our Song (2000; released theatrically in 2001). In the independent coming-of-age drama set in modern-day Crown Heights in Brooklyn, Washington starred with Anna Simpson and Melissa Martinez as one of three long-time friends/classmates. Also in 2000, Washington starred as a waitress torn between the success she's always dreamed of and the reality of its repercussions in Pete Chatmon's 24-minute film, 3D.
Afterward, Washington had a major supporting role as a single mom struggling with her child's absentee father in Thomas Carter's musical drama Save the Last Dance (2001, starring Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick). That same year, she went back to Sundance as a star of the independent Lift, in which she portrayed a saleswoman for a large department store. Meanwhile, TV viewers could catch her guest starring in an episode of ABC’s long-running cop drama “NYPD Blue” and NBC’s police procedural and legal drama “Law & Order.” She also appeared in five episodes of the short-lived courtroom drama “100 Centre Street.”
Washington subsequently supported Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock in Joel Schumacher's action/adventure spy movie Bad Company (2002), playing Chris Rock’s girlfriend Julie, and reunited with Hopkins in Robert Benton's film adaptation of Philip Roth's romantic thriller novel, Human Stain (2003; also starring Nicole Kidman). Washington eventually got her breakthrough role as legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles' (played by Jamie Foxx) wife in the Oscar-winning biographical film directed by Taylor Hackford, Ray (2004). The role earned her a nomination at the Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
Following her stunning performance in Ray, Washington was asked to star in the Spike Lee box office hit comedy She Hate Me (2004), playing Fatima Goodrich, Anthony Mackie's former fiancée. Spike Lee once commented about her, “She's a wonderful talent. She stacks up against anybody.”
From 2005 to 2006, Washington played the recurring role of Chelina Hall, a new associate of the law firm of Crane, Poole & Schmidt, on ABC's Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning legal drama “Boston Legal.” During that time, she was also cast as Alicia Masters, a blind sculptress and romantic interest of The Thing (played by Michael Chiklis), in Tim Story's film version of the Marvel Comics superheroes comic, Fantastic Four (2005; also starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Julian McMahon). She also shared the screen with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Doug Liman's action/romantic comedy Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005) and played Kay Amin, one of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin's (played by Forest Whitaker) wives, in Kevin MacDonald's Academy Award-winning British film based on Giles Foden's award-winning debut novel, The Last King of Scotland (2006). Additionally, she was cast alongside Toni Collette, Brittany Murphy and Marcia Gay Harden in writer-director Karen Moncrieff's acclaimed drama thriller The Dead Girl (2006).
“Honestly, I didn't expect him to be as good a director as he was, to be totally honest. I fought for this role and fought for this role and fought for this role and then when he got the financing, I found out that he was directing it. I was like, ‘I don't know if I want to do this movie anymore.’ And he was like, ‘Really?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, you know, Head of State is not my favorite movie on the planet.’ I was a little nervous about it. But I think he's a fantastic director.” Kerry Washington on working with writer/director/actor Chris Rock in I Think I Love My Wife (2007)
Recently, Washington again teamed up with Chris Rock in the romantic drama comedy film I Think I Love My Wife (2007), a remake of the 1972 French film Love in the Afternoon, by Éric Rohmer. In the newly-released film, she co-stars as the alluring, free-spirited and stunning Nikki, a man-eater who tempts Chris Rock's family-man character. Being asked about her character, Washington explained, “I was completely taken with the Nikki character. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, who is this girl?’ She became sort of this puzzle that I had to crack. I really was so taken with how well she was written and how complicated she was, and how powerful she was yet completely insecure. I just loved her from the first time I heard the character out loud.”
As for her upcoming projects, Washington will reprise her role as blind sculptress Alicia Masters in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Tim Story's sequel to the 2005 superhero film Fantastic Four. She is currently filming writer-director Buddy Giovinazzo's adaptation of his own novel/short stories, Life Is Hot in Cracktown, alongside Brandon Routh, Shannyn Sossamon, Evan Ross and Lara Flynn Boyle. She is also set to co-star with Samuel L. Jackson and Ashton Kutcher in Neil LaBute's upcoming drama/thriller Lakeview Terrace.
Razzie: Worst Screen Couple (shared with Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans), Little Man, 2007
Image: Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, Ray, 2005
Urbanworld Film Festival: MECCA Movie Award - Future of Film Award, 2002
Teen Choice: Film - Choice Breakout Performance, Save the Last Dance, 2001