Born in New York City on January 31, 1977, actress Kerry Washington started performing during her school years. She earned a degree in performance studies from George Washington University. After making her film debut in 2000's Our Song, Washington starred in such films as Save the Last Dance and Bad Company. She later earned wide acclaim for her work in Ray and The Last King of Scotland. In 2012, she began her run on the TV drama Scandal, receiving Emmy nominations for her portrayal of main character Olivia Pope. She also portrayed lawyer/academic Anita Hill in the 2016 HBO film Confirmation.
Background and Early Life
The daughter of a real estate broker and an education professor, actress Kerry Washington was born in New York City on January 31, 1977, and grew up in the South Bronx. She started out with ballet lessons as a young child, but her first career ambition involved a certain large mammal. "I wanted to work with Shamu at Sea World," Washington told Giant. "I thought that was the best job in the world, to care for and feed dancing whales."
Washington attended the Spence School in Manhattan, a prestigious private school. In addition to appearing in school productions, she was a member of a theater group that tackled social issues. Washington soon won a theater scholarship to George Washington University, where she earned a degree in performance studies.
While she made her film debut in Our Song in 2000, Washington had one of her first career breakthroughs the following year. She won over audiences with her role in Save the Last Dance (2001), starring Julia Stiles. Soon after the release of this popular teen drama, Washington moved on to comedy. She appeared in the humorous action film Bad Company (2004), starring Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins.
Washington's career really took flight in 2004; she had several major movie roles that year, including Della Bea Robinson, the wife of blind singer and musician Ray Charles, in the biopic Ray. Washington received strong reviews for her performance, and her co-star, Jamie Foxx, won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Charles. That same year, she starred opposite Anthony Mackie in Spike Lee's dramatic comedy She Hate Me.
'Fantastic Four' and 'King of Scotland'
The versatile actress tried her hand at the comic book action genre with 2005's Fantastic Four, portraying sculptor Alicia Masters opposite Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis. The following year, Washington once again showed off her skills as a dramatic actress in The Last King of Scotland. She won raves for her nuanced turn as the wife of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, as played by Forest Whitaker. Around this time, Washington also had a recurring role on the hit television series Boston Legal.
In 2007, Washington reteamed with Chris Rock for I Think I Love My Wife, playing a vixen who gets involved with a married man (Rock). The part gave Washington the opportunity to branch out from the many devoted wife roles she had tackled in the past. She went on to explore interracial relationships with the thriller Lakeview Terrace (2008), in which she plays an African-American woman married to a white man (Patrick Wilson). The couple is harassed by an African-American cop (Samuel L. Jackson). Around this time, Washington made her Broadway debut in the original David Mamet play Race (2009).
With For Colored Girls (2010), Washington worked with an impressive ensemble of actresses, including Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, Janet Jackson and Thandie Newton. The film, directed and written by Tyler Perry, was an adaptation of a play by Ntozake Shange.
Emmy Nods for 'Scandal'
Then in 2012, Washington moved to the small screen to star on the political drama Scandal, created by ABC powerhouse Shonda Rhimes. In the series, Washington plays Olivia Pope, a "fixer," or person who cleans up scandals and other messes for her clients. As of 2015, the actress has gone on to earn two Emmy nominations for the role, as well as winning an NAACP Image Award.
In 2012, Washington also reunited with Ray co-star Foxx for Quentin Tarantino's western Django Unchained (2012). She plays Broomhilda von Shaft, a slave married to Foxx's titular character, Django. In the film, the pair are separated, and Django teams up with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to find her. The following year, Washington was featured in the comedy/drama Peeples.
Washington added another accomplishment to her roster of acting feats when she portrayed lawyer/academic Anita Hill in the 2016 HBO film Confirmation. The movie depicts the Congressional hearings in which Hill asserts that Supreme Court justice nominee Clarence Thomas had previously committed sexual harassment in the workplace. Washington received a Golden Globe nomination for the role.
Washington is active in many social and political causes. She is a member of the Creative Coalition and sits on the board of V-Day, an organization that works to end violence against women. Washington is also a strong supporter of President Barack Obama and has campaigned on his behalf.
In June 2013, Washington married pro football player Nnamdi Asomugha, with the two having a baby girl, Isabelle, the following year. The couple had been dating for about a year before tying the knot. The couple welcomed a son, Caleb, in October 2016.
Washington had previously been engaged to actor David Moscow.
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