Black women may be starring in more leading roles on primetime television, but Kerry Washington is reminding everyone that it hasn't always been that way.
The "Scandal" star spoke with AOL Build's Donna Freydkin on Friday and talked about auditioning for the show's lead role of Olivia Pope and the excitement the opportunity brought, especially among the countless other black actresses who had an opportunity to audition for the role.
"It was a lot of attention when we first aired about the idea that there hadn’t been a black woman in the lead on a network drama in almost 40 years,” Washington said. "So imagine giving all of these black actresses in Hollywood, this opportunity, this script of like: ‘You could be the lead on the show. Something that has never happened in your lifetime. Go.’”
Washington recalled the anticipation she felt when "Scandal" first premiered and how the show's success could elevate more black actresses into leading TV roles.
"If you guys tuned in, if the numbers were right, the other networks were gonna do what they called 'taking a risk' and cast other black actresses in roles, which turns out, is not such a risk,” Washington told the audience. "Turns out you can have an actress who wins an Emmy, Viola Davis. Turns out you can have the hottest juggernaut of a show on the planet, Empire. Turns out it’s not a risk. If you let us in the door, we can get the job done.”
Washington’s words echo the same message Davis shared during her historical Emmys acceptance speech: "The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity."
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