Kerry Washington Says She Was Fired From Two TV Pilots for Not Being ‘Hood’ or ‘Urban’ Enough

Kerry Washington attends the United Way of Greater Los Angeles Women's Summit on April 25, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.
Kerry Washington attends the United Way of Greater Los Angeles Women's Summit on April 25, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. Araya Diaz/Getty Images

Such a scandal! Kerry Washington says she was fired from two TV shows for not fitting into the black stereotype that was expected from the actress. 

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The 39-year-old Scandal star sat down with Aziz Ansari for a Variety Studio: Actors on Actors segment, which will air in full later this month. “Before Scandal, I was actually cast in two other pilots,” she said. “Both went to series, but I was fired and recast. For both, it was because they wanted me to sound more ‘girlfriend,’ more like ‘hood,’ more ‘urban,'” she revealed.

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The comedian, 33, sympathized with the situation because he’s experienced typecasting in Hollywood too. “A lot of other minority actors have told me, 'Oh, this so rings a bell,’ when you go into an audition room and you see a bunch of people that look like you and you just start feeling like, Oh, I’m not here [for me], I’m here because I fit what looks like the person they want in here,” he said.

Ansari, who produces and stars in his own Netflix series, Master of None, says he constructed some characters in his show without ethnicity or sexuality in mind and let the actors bring themselves to the role. “I feel like a lot of times people don’t do that and then you end up with other peoples' perception of what certain people are like, and it’s insulting to actors,” he said. “You can’t wait for anyone to open doors for you.… You have to create your own doors.” 

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The Emmy-nominated actress agreed that they’re lucky to be successful enough in their careers to pursue their own projects. “I definitely feel like I’m at that point where it’s nice to not have to sit at home and wait to be invited to the party,” Washington said. “But to be creating work for yourself.”

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