Never in her 20-plus year career has Kerry Washington’s star shone brighter. She’s been featured in over 40 films and is currently riding high on the success of her smash TV series Scandal, but had it been up to a couple of typecasting Hollywood execs, Kerry would’ve been shuckin’ and jivin’ her way to relevance.
In an Actors to Actors interview for Variety, Kerry told fellow actor Aziz Ansari that before securing the role of Olivia Pope on the hit ABC series, she was dismissed and recast from two pilots because she didn’t fit the stereotypical bill the casting directors had in mind for the roles.
“Before ‘Scandal,’ I was actually cast in two other pilots. Both went to series, but I was fired and recast,” Kerry actress told Ansari. “For both it was because they wanted me to sound more ‘girlfriend,’ more like ‘hood,’ more ‘urban.’”
When the Django actress told friends of her struggles she was surprised to learn that it wasn’t just limited to Black actors.
Washington explains, “I’ve had friends of mine say like, they’re tired of ‘gayface’ and I was like, ‘What’s gayface?’ They were like, ‘It’s the gay version of blackface. Like come in and be more effeminate.”
Such hackneyed clichés in Hollywood casting calls is nothing new (Aziz addressed the issue with the “Indians On TV” episode on his Netflix series Master Of None). But if these “directors” are too narrow minded to realize that a talent like Washington brings something more than the “round the way girl” presence to a set, it just proves that their artistic range is far more limited than the pigeonhole they’re trying to cram today’s Black actresses in.
Peep the interview in it’s entirety below and sound off with your opinion.
Image: screen cap