I just love Kerry Washington. I have seen her in the past on television and in a movie or two, but she didn't win me over as a fan until I started watching Scandal. And even then, it took a few episodes for me to warm up to fast-talking, overconfident Olivia Pope. But now, I look forward to Thursday nights to catch new episodes.
Ms. Washington added a new layer to my respect and appreciation of her talents by hosting Saturday Night Live (SNL) on November 2. Not only did she show a different side to herself in a parody of What Does the Fox Say? but she also poked fun of herself and SNL as a whole by "having" to play 3 different people in one short skit because there are no black actresses currently on their roster. In fact, the last black comedienne to regularly appear on SNL was Maya Rudolph, who left in 2007.
I am not trying to accuse SNL of not being "diverse" enough. I'd rather see someone who was white and funny than someone who was black and not. While talent comes in many colors, perhaps the "right" black woman has not crossed paths with the powers-that-be at SNL. Washington's performance, however, has gotten the media and many fans up in arms about SNL's "lack of diversity."
Washington herself is very diverse as an actress. When she does press, she's very presentable and proper, as is her character on Scandal. The parody of The Fox had her using slang and moving in a way that is stereotypically "mad black woman." And she did it like it was nothing. It was as if her academically-oriented upbringing and her double majors in anthropology and sociology didn't influence her at all.
Before you start typing a flame comment, I don't mean that educated black women never use African-American cultural language or movements. Or that women who do use that cultural stuff are all uneducated. I'm just trying to point out that Washington herself is an amazing example of "diversity." She doesn't pigeon-hole herself into one persona, but demonstrates that there are many sides to herself, just as there are in all of us. However, most people aren't brave enough to show the lesser-known sides of themselves, especially on national television!
The final thing I'd like to remark about is that Washington knew that she was taking a chance with these skits. She probably had a good idea that they could be taken as an insult or as a parody, and that the general public typically likes to get their torches and pitchforks out. But she did it anyway. She laughed at SNL, the issue of diversity and at herself. If more people could find the humor in a situation instead of automatically going into angry mode, we'd have a lot more peaceful folks in this country.
I'm looking at Kerry Washington as a role model. I want to be able to show the many sides of myself without fear (or at least with courage). I want to be able to laugh at myself and at issues that might normally spark me up. I want to be brave enough to comment on hot topics and strong enough to weather the heat as a result. Thank you, Ms. Washington, for your tenacity. You inspire me!