Kerry Washington (born January 31, 1977) is an American actress. She is known for her roles as Ray Charles's wife, Della Bea Robinson, in the film Ray (2004), as Idi Amin's wife Kay in The Last King of Scotland, and as Alicia Masters, love interest of Ben Grimm, The Thing, in the live-action Fantastic Four films of 2005 and 2007. She has also starred in the critically acclaimed independent films Our Song and The Dead Girl, and will be the lead actress in the 2012 ABC drama Scandal, a Shonda Rhimes series where Washington will play Olivia Pope, a former crisis management expert to the President.
Washington was born in the The Bronx, New York City, the daughter of Valerie, a professor and educational consultant, and a real estate broker father. She performed with the Tada theater teen group and attended the Spence School in Manhattan, graduating in 1994. She attended The George Washington University, graduating in 1998. She also studied at Michael Howard Studios in New York City.
Washington made her screen debut in the ABC telefilm Magical Make-Over (1994). She was in the cast of the 1996 PBS sketch comedy-style educational series Standard Deviants, and she appeared in the short "3D" and the feature film Our Song in 2000. She went on to appear in several movies, including Save the Last Dance (2001), The Human Stain (2003), Spike Lee's She Hate Me (2004), Ray (2004), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Little Man (2006), I Think I Love My Wife (2007), and as a wife of 1970s Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the UK historical drama The Last King of Scotland (2006). Washington has also appeared in the recurring role of Chelina Hall on the ABC television series Boston Legal, and in several episodes of the A&E cable-TV series 100 Centre Street.
She is the new spokesperson for L'Oréal, appearing in commercials and ads alongside fellow actresses Scarlett Johansson and Eva Longoria, and model Doutzen Kroes.
She also co-directed and appeared in the music video for hip-hop artist Common's song, "I Want You", the fourth single off of his album Finding Forever.
Washington narrated the critically acclaimed documentary about the New Orleans-based teenage TBC Brass Band, From the Mouthpiece on Back. She also appears in Maxwell's "Bad Habits" video. In 2009, Washington performed in The People Speak a documentary feature film that uses dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans, based on historian Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States”.
In 2010, she made her Broadway debut in David Mamet's Race, alongside James Spader, David Alan Grier, and Richard Thomas. She also appeared in Tyler Perry's 2010 film For Colored Girls.
In October 2011 it was confirmed that she would be starring in Quentin Tarantino's new film Django Unchained.
Washington was engaged to actor David Moscow from October 2004 to March 2007.
As a sort of souvenir or memento, she usually tries to keep something from every character that she plays, such as an item of wardrobe or a piece of furniture from the house the character lived in.
She is at times referred to as a political activist and was a supporter of Barack Obama's presidential candidacy. Washington has also spent time volunteering through the Adopt-a-Classroom program in New York as well as with Co-Op America, now known as Green America.