Kerry Washington and Regina King have been killing it on television in recent years. The two actresses recently joined Julianna Margulies, Sarah Paulson, Kirsten Dunst and Constance Zimmer for the latest cover of The Hollywood Reporter.
King who has delivered powerhouse performances on HBO’s The Leftovers and FX’s American Crime Story talked about what can be learned from television series that feature meatier, complex roles.
Every project I’ve worked on, as a whole I’ve learned something — not so much that the character that I’m playing has taught me something, but the people whom I’m working with or the story that’s being told has taught me something about people. With American Crime, it was that so many people think that black people can’t be elitist, that a black elitist doesn’t exist. I’m just surprised how many people are so shocked that Terri [the well-to-do, strict mom to basketball player Kevin, played by Trevor Jackson] actually exists. I’m like, you don’t know a Terri? I could show you three.
Washington, who stars in ABC’s Scandal and recently did an amazing job as Anita Hill in HBO’s Confirmation, talked about the challenges faced when depicted a real life person,
I think it is because you have to embody that. I have to love the person I’m playing — even if you have a hard time loving them, I have to love them. For me, it was tricky because as a producer [on Confirmation], I wanted to produce a film about the hearings that was really complicated and where you felt pulled toward all of the characters. And I wanted all of the actors to feel enormous compassion for their [characters]. This is not a he said, she said; it’s a real, complicated portrait of how everybody was doing the best they could with what they had at the time. But as an actor, I was like, “It’s all about Anita [Hill].” (Laughs.) So, the developing of the script was where I really tried to lean into the other characters and make sure that the story felt very balanced and that I felt compassion toward all of them; but there was a point about two weeks before shooting where I was like, “Peace out, you’re on your own, I got her now and you guys have to protect those other people.”