Let it be said: actress Kerry Washington is one of America's most beautiful women.
Possessing cheek bones to rival Jennifer Garner, lips that put Angelina Jolie to shame and legs like Tina Turner's back in the day, Washington is a bonafide babe. It's no wonder L'Oreal Paris came calling and made her one of their spokespeople alongside Eva Longoria and Beyoncé.
But the Bronx native isn't just a looker. The "Ray" star is an indie darling, a talented performer both on the silver screen and on stage, a passionate political activist involved in a number of causes, and graduate of George Washington University. In her latest role, as a social worker who witnesses unspeakable tragedy in Tyler Perry's "For Colored Girls," Washington gives a typically powerful performance in a film chock full of them.
Perry, in adapting the ground breaking play by Ntozake Shange, assembled a stellar ensemble of leading ladies that includes the talented likes of Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose, Kimberly Elise and Whoopi Goldberg.
We spoke to a bubbly and gracious Washington about working with some of the best in the biz, and what it's like uttering those famous L'Oreal lines...
You're known as an actress who's involved in many causes. Do you make role choices to reflect that passion?
It's sort of a chicken and egg situation. I'm not sure what comes first. I come from a really politically conscious family, and so that part of me was sort of inbred. But I do think there's something about being an artist that can often lend itself to a more compassionate way of thinking about your fellow human being - because the job of the actor is to literally walk in someone else's shoes. Of course there are famous conservative actors. But I think for me personally, having a job that requires that I constantly ask myself, "What would that person do? How would that person feel?" -- it encourages me to live in the world with a more compassionate understanding.
Speaking of feeling, how did you feel when you came onto Perry's set? Were you and the cast intimidated given the following the play has?
There was pressure, but I would call it more responsibility. There was sort of an excitement around the responsibility that we were taking on. So that was really how we walked into it. We weren't afraid of it per se. We wanted to honor the legacy of the work. If anything, we were inspired by each other.
What was it like working with these ladies?
One of the things that was so interesting about doing the film was that we all had such different processes. Some people really wanted to stay in character all the time. Other people asked to be called by their real names between every take because they felt they needed to be grounded in reality in that way. So I really commend Tyler for being able to take this group of actresses, who each work in such varied ways, and to still somehow get these incredible performances out of each of us.
Now on to lighter fare -- were you at all jealous that you didn't get to don a superhero costume in the "Fantastic Four" series? Don't lie.
No, it looked very tight and uncomfortable. I'd love to play a superhero though. I was really excited about playing Alicia Masters. That was a big decision for the studio, to be willing to change this traditional character from the comic book into an African American woman. I was really thrilled when we came to them with the idea that they were willing to do it. Even now in the animated version, Masters is black which is cool. It's such a great way of updating the series, and making sure that all kids who tune feel have a place that they can see themselves.
We're guessing you didn't ever see yourself landing the enviable feat of being a L'Oreal spokesperson. Was it surreal when you first uttered the lines, "Because you're worth it"?
It was! It definitley was. I love that I know how to say it in five different languages. It's such a honor. I remember growing up seeing Vanessa Williams as a L'Oreal girl, thinking I'm worth it. As in, if she's worth it, then I may be worth it. Not in terms of I'm worth a new lipstick. It was more just maybe I'm pretty.
Maybe?! Kerry's Hot People Looking Hot gallery ought to be proof positive of prettiness.