I first saw Kerry Washington in a 2001 indie called Lift, in which the Scandal star played a put-together young woman with a shoplifiting problem. Written and directed by Boston natives DeMane Davis and Khari Streeter based on their own experiences, the movie was nothing special, but Washington obviously was. Her Niecy was ambitious and fragile and self-doubting and suave, and Washington has the kind of beauty that makes you want to remember every contour and curve of her face.
For the next decade, I looked for Washington to reappear, only to be perpetually disappointed. There’s so much denied pleasure in being a fan of actresses of color. I caught glimpses of her as the love interest in the biopic Ray and the post-Black Panther drama Night Catches Us (two roles that necessitated a black actress, it’s important to note). But it wasn’t until Shonda Rhimes cast her in Scandal that Washington finally got the career she’s deserved all along. When Washington co-starred in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, what should have been a major exposure moment felt like a step backward. Her role was that of another long-suffering wife with little agency of her own, and whose primary reason for existence was to be pained to give Jamie Foxx’s character more motivation to rebel against the plantation system.
Hollywood is a difficult industry for everyone, but racism and sexism make it much harder for women and minorities to succeed. Lift, in fact, was Washington’s last lead film role — over a dozen years ago. That’s why I can’t help having absurdly high hopes for Washington’s next film project, the romantic comedy Is He the One. I’ve been waiting so long to see Washington at the center of a movie again.
Written by Michelle Morgan and DJ Richardson, Is He the One finds Washington as a bride with a trio of romances in her past. The mystery is which one of the three men she was wooing will end up at the altar with her. I’m always up for an innovative rom com — and director Malcolm D. Lee helmed the much-loved The Best Man and its sequel — while the premise reminds me of a fun take on what Amma Asante said about her movie Belle: “I wanted to show a woman of color being loved. We don’t see it that often.”
Washington’s already made her mark on the small screen. Now is the time for her to shine on the big screen.