At a Glance

Kerry Washington : Biography at a Glance

  • Stars in ABC's award-winning series Scandal
  • Film credits include Fantastic Four, I Think I Love My Wife, Ray and Lift
  • Earned the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for her role in Ray
  • Appointed by President Obama to the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities
  • Spokesperson for L'Oreal Paris and a brand ambassador for Movado



Kerry Washington is a versatile and fearless actress on both the screen and stage who is best known for her Emmy-nominated role as Olivia Pope on the acclaimed ABC series "Scandal."

Washington was most recently seen in the HBO TV film "Confirmation" for which she was nominated for an Emmy. Before that, Kerry starred in Quentin Tarantino’s "Django Unchained" alongside Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, and Samuel Jackson. The film was nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Picture. 

Washington is currently producing "Five Points," a teen drama series set on Chicago’s South Side that will follow high school students from five different points of view, and will be released through Facebook's online video platform, Facebook Watch. A fierce proponent of inclusion in media, Washington believes that "storytelling in the digital and tech space involves more voices at the storytelling table.”

Washington’s debut came in the highly acclaimed 2000 independent film "Our Song" and the following year appeared in the "Save the Last Dance," for which she received a Teen Choice Award for Best Breakout Performance. Her performance in the 2002 film "Lift" earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actress. In the years following her debut, Kerry starred in several films including "Bad Company," "The United States of Leland," "The Human Stain," "Sin," "Against the Rope," and "She Hate Me."

In 2004, Washington starred alongside Jamie Foxx in the Academy Award nominated hit "Ray." Her performance earned her the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture. In the years to follow, Washington was seen in "Sexual Life," "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," "Fantastic Four," "The Dead Girl," "I think I Love My Wife," "Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer," "Miracle at St. Anna," "Life is Hot in Cracktown," and "Mother and Child." Washington received NAACP Image Award nominations for her performances in the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland and the 2010 film "Night Catches Us." Her performance in the 2008 film "Lakeview Terrace" earned her a Best Actress nomination at the BET Awards.

In 2010, Washington starred in the Tyler Perry’s "For Colored Girls" alongside Phylicia Rashad, Whoopi Goldberg, Janet Jackson and Thandie Newton. That year Washington also made her Broadway debut in David Mamet’s "Race," starring James Spader and David Alan Grier. In 2012, Washington was seen in "The Details" with Tobey Maguire as well as "A Thousand Words" alongside Eddie Murphy. In 2013, she starred in Tyler Perry produced comedy, "Peeples," alongside Craig Robinson.

In television, Washington was best known for her lead role in the hit ABC drama Scandal, which was on air from April 2012 to April 2018. For this role, Washington broke barriers by becoming the first African American woman to a headline a network TV show since the 1974 short-lived series "Get Christie Love." In 2013, Washington earned her first primetime Emmy award nomination for her portrayal of Olivia Pope. She was also awarded an NAACP Image Award for Best Actress and the show won for Best Drama. The NAACP also honored Washington with the President’s Award, recognizing special achievement in furthering the cause of civil rights and public service. In 2015, she was awarded the GLAAD Vanguard Award, recognizing the significant difference she has made in promoting equal rights for LGBT people.

An activist, Washington was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Committee of the Arts and Humanities in 2009.  She also is an active member of the V-Counsel, an esteemed group of advisors to V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls. In 2014, TIME magazine named Washington one of its "100 Most Influential People."


She was fantastic. She was smart, funny, and so appreciative. At least ten people have told me it was the best event they had every attended.

Brandeis University
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