Kerry Washington Gives Stirring Speech About Inclusive Representation at GLAAD Awards

by Jessica Roy 11:55 AM PDT, March 22, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

Kerry Washington gave a speech at the GLAAD Media Awards Saturday night that would have made Olivia Pope proud.

The Scandal actress received the Vanguard Award for being an ally to the LGBT community. She used her acceptance speech to stress the importance of representation for anyone considered an "other" by society, including the LGBT community, women, people of color, people with disabilities, poor people, and other marginalized groups.

"We have been pitted against each other and made to feel there are limited seats at the table for those of us who fall into the category of 'other,'" she said.

She said as a black woman, the characters she plays are often radical just by existing.

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"I don't decide to play the characters I play as a political choice, yet the characters I play often do become political statements," Washington said. "Having your story told, as a woman, as a person of color, as a lesbian or as a trans person, as any member of any disenfranchised community, it is sadly often still a radical idea."

"There is enormous power in inclusive storytelling, inclusive representations," Washington continued. "We need more LGBT characters and more LGBT storytelling. We need more diverse LGBT representation, and by that, I mean lots of different kinds of LGBT people, living all different kinds of lives."

And a big part of that, she pointed out, means having diversity behind the scenes as well.

"We need more employment of LGBT people in front of and behind the camera," Kerry announced to a standing ovation.

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She finished by underscoring the need for marginalized people to be allies to one another.

"We can't say we believe in each other's fundamental humanity and then turn a blind eye to the reality of each other's existence and the truth of each other's hearts," she said. "We must be allies, and we must be allies in this business, because to be represented is to be humanized."

Watch the full speech:

Last month, Kerry Washington hinted at a "game-changing" plot twist coming up on Scandal.