Kerry Washington knows a thing or two about the struggle of being a black woman in Hollywood.
Long before the actress found success on “Scandal,” she was cast on two other TV pilots and got fired from them both — because she didn’t sound stereotypically black enough.
In conversation with fellow actor Aziz Ansari in an episode of Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series published Tuesday, Washington said:
“For both [pilots], it was because they wanted me to sound more ‘girlfriend,’ more like ‘hood,’ more ‘urban.’”
Washington pointed out a fact that this experience of being asked to mimic a stereotype is one that other minorities and groups experience in Hollywood. “I’ve had friends of mine say 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,’” Washington explained.
Thankfully, Washington’s role on Scandal has not only opened doors for more black women challenging stereotypes on TV (from “Being Mary Jane” to “Black-ish”), but has put her in the position to star in more complex roles and even create her own production company.
“I definitely feel like I’m at that point where it’s nice to not have to sit at home and wait to be invited to the party, but to be creating work for yourself,” Washington added.