Kerry Washington is a versatile and talented actress who has brought many exceptional roles to life, both on the big and small screens. With a career spanning three decades, Kerry Washington has constantly proven herself as a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry. From her breakout role in Save the Last Dance to her iconic portrayal of Olivia Pope in Scandal, Washington has consistently delivered outstanding performances. Whether in dramatic or comedic roles, she consistently resonates with audiences and critics alike. She also boasts a worldwide box office gross of over $2 billion as a lead and supporting actress. However, with a vast filmography and countless roles under her belt, Kerry Washington will forever earn praise for these seven impeccable roles.
7. Kendra Ellis-Connor (American Son, 2019)
Kerry Washington delivered one of her most poignant, powerful roles in American Son. In this emotionally charged drama, she portrays Kendra Ellis-Connor, a mother desperately searching for answers about her missing teenage son. The film is set against the backdrop of a police station, where Kendra confronts the officers and fights with the complexities of race, identities, and the justice system. Overall, Washington gave a stellar performance that captured the heart-wrenching and thought-provoking moments of a mother’s anguish. Furthermore, her acting showcased her exceptional talent, as well as her ability to tackle roles that resonate with audiences.
6. Broomhilda Von Shaft (Django Unchained, 2012)
Kerry Washington embraced a demanding role in Quentin Tarantino’s critically acclaimed film Django Unchained. She portrayed Broomhilda von Shaft, an enslaved woman whose liberation becomes the central focus of her husband’s quest for freedom. The star-studded film centers around Django, played by Jamie Foxx, a former enslaved free man who teams up with a German bounty hunter to rescue his wife from a merciless slave owner. The cast also featured other prominent names, such as: Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Christoph Waltz. Washington’s performance was both compelling and deeply moving, shedding light on the harsh realities of slavery while preserving her character’s strength and dignity.
5. Kay Amin (The Last King Of Scotland, 2006)
In The Last King of Scotland, Kerry Washington took on one of her most dramatic roles ever. Here, she portrayed Kay Amin, Idi Amin’s third and youngest wife. The film delves into the controversial regime of Idi Amin, the notorious Ugandan dictator. However, the narrative primarily unfolds through the perspective of a Scottish doctor, portrayed by James McAvoy. Washington’s character becomes embroiled in an extramarital affair with the doctor, and together, they unite to endure the havoc wrought by Amin upon the nation and its people. Although the film faced criticism for historical inaccuracies, it still garnered love, particularly due to its acting performances. Additionally, it provided Washington with an opportunity to demonstrate her skills in immersing herself in intricate historical narratives.
4. Della Bea Robinson (Ray, 2004)
In one of her earliest roles, Kerry Washington displayed her dramatic prowess in the biographical film Ray. She took on the role of Della Bea Robinson, the wife of legendary musician Ray Charles, played by Jamie Foxx. The film follows the life of Ray, from his childhood to his rise to fame. The film also looks into his struggle with drug addiction and his marriage with Della Bea Robinson. Here, Washington plays the patient and loving wife and perfectly portrays the love and support that sustained the troubled genius throughout his life. Consequently, her performance in Ray earned her critical acclaim and also showcased her ability to bring great depth to her characters.
3. Anita Hill (Confirmation, 2016)
In Confirmation, Washington starred as the real-life Anita Hill, a law professor who accused Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. The HBO film centers on the controversy that ensued after Hill came forward with her accusation. Her portrayal of Hill’s courage and determination in the face of adversity was nothing short of exceptional, earning her an Emmy nomination. Furthermore, the film received highly positive reviews from critics and fans alike, as they touted it as one of Washington’s best performances in her career.
2. Mia Warren (Little Fires Everywhere, 2020)
Kerry Washington stars alongside actress Reese Witherspoon in Little Fires Everywhere. She portrayed the character Mia Warren in the eight-episode miniseries. The series delves into the lives of the seemingly flawless Richards family, which takes an unexpected turn with the arrival of the mysterious artist Mia and her compassionate daughter, Pearl. Washington embraced the role of the resourceful and secretive mother, delivering a captivating performance that earned her an Emmy Award nod. Additionally, her on-screen clashes with Reese Witherspoon’s character, Elena, contributed to the series’ critical praise.
1. Olivia Pope (Scandal, 2012-2018)
There’s absolutely no way Kerry Washington is living down her iconic role as Olivia Pope in Scandal. In fact, on social media particularly, some fans simply refer to her as Ms. Pope, even after all these years. In a career-defining turn, Washington moved over to Shondaland and became a household name. Scandal remains one of the most popular dramas to ever air on ABC and was very popular on social media as well. Washington’s cutthroat acting style made every word out of her mouth believable. Coupled with incredible fashion sense and deep emotional weaknesses, she became TV gold!