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Kerry Washington Says She Wouldn't Have Starred In 'Scandal' If The President Was Black

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act February 7, 2013 at 4:32PM

"I was a little concerned because [the character has] a scandalous relationship with the [occupant of the] White House," the actress says of her role, which is based on a real-life Beltway insider. "I thought, 'If the president on the show is Black, I will not do the show.' Because to me, it was too important a moment. I didn’t want to do anything that compromised my relationship with the [president] or that made it seem like I had an insider view on the Obama presidency [...] I thought that would be so disrespectful and so against all the work that I had done." 
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Scandal Season 2

"I was a little concerned because [the character has] a scandalous relationship with the [occupant of the] White House," the actress says of her role, which is based on a real-life Beltway insider. "I thought, 'If the president on the show is Black, I will not do the show.' Because to me, it was too important a moment. I didn’t want to do anything that compromised my relationship with the [president] or that made it seem like I had an insider view on the Obama presidency [...] I thought that would be so disrespectful and so against all the work that I had done." 

Words spoken by Kerry Washington, about her hit ABC Shondo Rhimes-created drama, Scandal. This was lifted from the latest issue of Ebony magazine (via News One). Kerry's on the cover.

So, if I'm understanding her correctly, she wouldn't have done the show if President Fitzgerald Grant was a brotha, because she felt that it might have implied (to audiences) that there were some similarities between the relationship Olivia Pope has with the fictional president, and her own real-life relationship with President Obama. She felt that audiences may have wondered if she had some insider POV of Obama's White House.

Hmm... Ok. I'm trying to wrap my mind around that. I guess I can understand her concerns. BUT, from what we know of Kerry Washington, she doesn't strike me as someone who would really gives a damn what audiences might infer from roles she takes, so her reasoning is a little surprising to me. 

Audiences took issue with the role she played in Django Unchained from the start, but that didn't stop her from taking the role.

I wonder if she gave any thought to the *positive* influences that having a black president on the show could have meant; it seems as if the *negatives,* from her POV, outweighed the positives. 

But if he was a black president, having an affair, would black America have rejected that - a black president having an affair, on a hit TV show? 

I wonder if the people she was most concerned about (given her above quote) weren't so much the audience that actually drives the show's ratings (black women primarily), but were instead white Americans.

As an addendum to this, a few days ago, Star Jones took to Twitter and challenged Shonda Rhimes on the interracial love affair on the show.

The first tweet came from Star Jones:

??? for @shondaRhimes: Why does #OliviaPope reject fine azz Senate Maj Leader #EdisonDavis for married #POTUS w/ a pregnant wife? #Scandal

There wasn't an immediate response, so she followed that up with:

I love #scandal. @kerrywashington is ridiculously good...but I'd love to see #OliviaPope reject the unethical & immoral for a good brother!

Some minutes later, Shonda Rhimes replied with:

OH! Just read the tweets. Here's answer: Because this show is not a fairy tale & Olivia is not a role model.”

And Star Jones replied with:

Fair enough.

So... what do you guys say about all this? Much ado about nothing? Or is there something worth talking about here? Is she being genuine, or is she just trying to stir up conversation around her and the show? After all, publicity is publicity...

This article is related to: Television, TV Features, Kerry Washington


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