To be clear, she will say no to stuff. But more often than not it’s because the part was poorly written or maybe reinforced demeaning stereotypes. The one thing she doesn’t do is make assumptions about characters. “If I were to say it’s okay to play a lawyer but not a maid, or it’s okay to play a professor but not a slave, that would be sort of spitting on the legacy of my grandmother, who was a maid on Park Avenue for years, or my ancestors in South Carolina, who came from slavery. What’s interesting about storytelling,” she says, “is we get to step into someone’s experience for an hour and a half in the dark, and in the process of living through that journey we learn about ourselves. That’s what it’s all about to me.”
Growing up, Washington was a pretty active kid—ballet, gymnastics, acting lessons. In elementary school, she started getting into Meet the Press and Like It Is. She still remembers the lively, sometimes heated, discussions on race and society around the dinner table. “My family’s very multiethnic,” she says. “When we get together for the holidays, it is the U.N., across the board.” Her mother, who holds a doctorate in education, and her father, a real estate broker, lived in opposition to the belief that children should be seen and not heard. They pushed their daughter academically, enrolling her in The Spence School, an exclusive private institution on the Upper East Side. She was in for a big culture shock.
Theyskens’ Theory top; Elizabeth and James pants and suspenders; Jennifer Fisher cuff and ring; Alexis Bittar cuff; Finn necklace and gold knot rings.