Kerry Washington Gets Candid About Hollywood Diversity and How the System Is Still 'Centering Whiteness'
By Meredith B. Kile
David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
Kerry Washington is hopeful about the future of Hollywood, but she knows there's a lot of work still to be done.
The actress was a guest on the first episode of theHollywood: the Sequel podcast this week, where she spoke about the renewed national focus on the Black Lives Matter movement and the effects it will hopefully have on the entertainment industry and the country as a whole.
"We have to be willing to look at ourselves, regardless of what industry we're in," she said. "We look at ourselves to get better and do better. When we say we're committed to diversity -- it's diverse from what? We're still centering whiteness as the most important thing and inviting diversity around that."
"When we talk about inclusivity, there's still an in and an out," she continued. "So we're still centering certain kinds of people and maybe in tiny fractions allowing other people to the table. There's just so much of it that needs to reexamined."
Washington admitted that, despite the national protests and cultural reckoning that have followed the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and more, "not much has changed for Black people in the last couple of weeks."
This video is unavailable because we were unable to load a message from our sponsors.
If you are using ad-blocking software, please disable it and reload the page.
Ava DuVernay Feels ‘Blessed’ to Contribute to the Black Lives Matter Conversation With Her Films
"The sentiments of the moment that feel revelatory -- I don't feel like those feelings belong to me," she explained. "This is not a moment of revelation, but I'm watching the revelation around me for people. I'm grateful that the world is showing up for Black lives in a different way, but this is what has been the reality -- this level of danger and anger and fear, maybe trauma and lack of safety -- this has been the reality of Black Americans since there were Black Americans."
The real change, she explained, for Hollywood and the world in general, will come not from protests and diversity initiatives, but from dismantling the inherently unbalanced system that puts Black people and other people of color at a disadvantage from the start.
"I think what people are realizing is that it's not enough to just not be racist -- that because our institutions were built in the fabric of racism, because our country was born with Black Americans being designated a fraction of a human being -- it's not enough to just not be racist, we have to be actively antiracist and for that desire to come from a deep understanding that we all deserve full rights of humanity," she noted.
"I'm hoping that all of this new revelatory reflection lends itself to transformation not just of hearts and minds, but also institutional practices," Washington added. "Yes, all lives matter, but accepting to be in an anti-racist society, we affirm that Black lives matter...It's important we're having these conversations at our dinner tables, in our classrooms and in our highest systems of government."
For Hollywood, in particular, she said her simple hope was that "a lot of good [comes out of these conversations] and that we can see each other, and have courage to make room for each other."
Washington has been active on social media in recent weeks, hosting yoga and meditation sessions and inviting followers to "take time to breathe for those who no longer have breath." She also thanked fans who said they were watching her Broadway play-turned-Netflix film American Son -- which deals with issues of race and police injustice -- to "deepen their compassion and understanding."
"My dream for this film was to spark conversations that would lead to change," the actress and mother of two wrote on Instagram.