Kerry Washington: ‘We get sent by God the kids we need so we can grow’

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I like Kerry Washington so much, but I usually dislike her magazine profiles. She’s a very private person, I get that. She’s not going to talk about her marriage or her two children or how she really feels about this or that hot-button topic. I understand her privacy and I respect it. But I’m just saying, it makes for consistently boring interviews. Kerry covers the November issue of Marie Claire, “The Power Issue.” You can read the full piece here – she’s talking about the legacy of Scandal, and Time’s Up, and how she’s back doing theatre work. Some highlights:

On how she defines power: “Honestly, I think about power as more of an internal phenomenon. I tend to think about empowerment for myself so that I have the courage and ability to act on the ideologies and priorities that resonate with me. I’ve always wanted to cultivate a sense of empowerment within myself without seeking approval from outside sources.”

On her special connection to theater: “The last time I did theater, it completely transformed my life. That’s where I met my husband.”

On learning from her children: “My children are my teachers. We get sent by God the kids we need so we can grow in order to be the parents they need us to be. The children I got sent came in perfect, and I have to figure out how to grow and evolve so that I can support the truth of them. I’m in a constant state of learning and challenging myself to make room for their perfection and beauty.”

She owns a Los Angeles Gun Club hoodie. “I had to go to gun training on Scandal. I was terrified because I don’t like guns, but I wanted to be realistic in how I held it and used it, and I felt like Olivia would know those things. I was really proud of myself having done it. I was like, ‘I’m going to buy a sweatshirt,’ but I am not a card-carrying NRA member. I believe in gun control. But it was good for me to face my fear and learn how to shoot.”

On her work with Times Up: “Our priority has been to not reinvent the wheel, to not feel like, ‘Oh we’re going to come in and do what nobody has been able to do,’ but rather to acknowledge that there are so many communities of powerful women committed to advocacy, and our job is to leverage whatever power we have to support that work, grow that work, shed light on that work.”

On working with Time’s Up as a black woman: “It’s complicated to be a woman of color doing this work because I remember the first time I talked about it in a meeting. I said to the white women in the room, ‘You all roll your eyes when they call it a witch hunt, but for black women in this country, we’ve had our men hung from trees for whistling at white women when they did no wrong. The false accusation of sexual assault is a very real danger for us in a way that doesn’t resonate for you, and so when you wonder why there aren’t more of us in the room, that might be part of it.’ It was in that meeting that we were talking about how one of our members got word that there was a powerful exposé being developed around R. Kelly and said, ‘Do we want to get ahead of this?’ It was like, ‘Of course we do.’ It can’t be only the Angelina Jolies and the Gwyneth Paltrows, that we prioritize their pain and ignore all of these underage black women who for decades have been saying, ‘Help me.’ We came forward for them in a statement about R. Kelly, and it was Time’s Up WOC’s first big public action.”

[From Marie Claire]

When the Harvey Weinstein stories broke and there were so many actresses telling their stories about his harassment and assault, I still remember how Lupita Nyong’o telling her story really changed the way the conversation happened. Before Lupita, most people saw Weinstein as a predator of *only* white women, and there were people theorizing about how the Weinstein conversation wouldn’t have happened if he preyed on anyone other than attractive, relatable, famous white women. Lupita changed the dynamic and widened the conversation – women of color in the industry felt like they could also come forward too, and that they could be believed. I understand what Kerry is saying about Time’s Up and women of color and the legacy of “false accusations” towards black men. But there are other dynamics and conversations too.

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Photos courtesy of Thomas Whiteside for Marie Claire, sent from promotional Marie Claire email.

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36 Responses to “Kerry Washington: ‘We get sent by God the kids we need so we can grow’”

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  1. The Crumpled Horn says:

    Hmmm I don’t know about this.

    I’ve got three boys and my first is a carbon copy of his dad. Second is a carbon copy of me. Third is a funny, quirky, eccentric little fella just doing his thing quietly.

    I think kids arrive perfectly formed as they are meant to be and no amount of nurture can change who they intrinsically are. I know she’s not really saying this but I think KW may be being a wee bit squiffy here…

  2. MarcelMarcel says:

    I adore Kerry Washington. She’s such a gifted actress and so eloquent (if a bit guarded) in interviews.

  3. LT says:

    Interesting theory. I’ve got 3, soon to be 4, kids (thanks to an upcoming marriage) and rausing them has definitely forced me to up my parenting game. They are all so different and have different needs that it’s like I go, “ok, so what new tools do I need for THIS one?” All were adopted, though, so I don’t have preconceived ideas of what they are going to be like based on genetics and therefore have to figure it out based on who THEY are.

  4. Aang says:

    Love her. And yes to all she said about growing as a person after having children. Having a trans child has definitely made me let go of so much of what I thought I knew about absolutely everything. I am much less afraid of the unknown, less afraid of not being in control. Stronger because of my child’s strength. My children have definitely been my teachers.

  5. Jay says:

    Cool. What about women who are unable to conceive? I get that she’s happy about her kids or whatever but I really hate how motherhood is pushed in our social messaging as this wonderful thing that pushes you to be some glorious enlightened being and how it’s impossible to know true love without having kids blah blah blah. Now I’m going to be in a foul mood all day. Ugh. (No one is to blame for my foul mood but me, I know that.)

    • BearcatLawyer says:

      Same here. Except since God never saw fit to bless me with kids, my current working theory is that God must think I am grown up and smart enough.

      I too wish people would knock it off with the deification of motherhood. Women are so much more than their reproductive abilities, but the way much of the media and social media talk, all that matters in life is becoming a mother. Sorry, but NO. Just NO.

    • Gigi La Moore says:

      She isn’t saying children are the only way for women to grow. I wish we would let people voice how they feel without taking it personally.

    • CK says:

      Does every pregnancy or motherhood story, need a disclaimer that the speakers isn’t even thinking or talking about women who can’t conceive or choose not to?

      I swear every time someone speaks about motherhood in their own terms, this same thread pops up.

      • CK says:

        Why should they stop sharing their stories because I pointed out that she wasn’t talking about you in the slightest?

        You’re the one that jumped into a story obviously about motherhood and harped about infertility.

        No one is policing comments. I’m just pointing out the pattern of people harping on mothers/pregnant women who dare say something grandiose or exciting about their pregnancy/children without lighting a candle on the alter of women without children. Dealing with fertility issues or choosing not to have children doesn’t suddenly give you license to attack other women who have a different situation.

        If she were bashing those women, then fine, eat her alive. However, why treat the lack of mention of those women as some sort of slight? Why “All Lives Matter” every story about pregnancy or motherhood? If they weren’t mentioned, then she obviously wasn’t talking about them or trying to offend them.

      • Gigi La Moore says:

        CK, I agree with you completely. We are living in a society where you can’t feel good because it might make another feel bad. Kerry is speaking to her own experience and philosophy, and that’s ok. That doesn’t negate those who can’t conceive or those who don’t agree with her point of view.

      • minime says:

        it’s not an exciting detail of her experience with motherhood that in her opinion “we get sent by god the kids we need”, it’s just a straight judgemental, idiotic opinion. This is not only offensive for people who can’t have children (the ones who chose not to are long used to this simple minded vision of women), but for people who “got sent by god” children with disabilities, sick children who died too young and so on and so on. I never knew that she was so intellectually limited…very disappointing interview.

      • eto says:

        All she’s saying is that having kids made her want to be a better person so she could be a better parent. It’s not that deep. Other people are allowed to grow from experiences you don’t want for yourself.

      • Linda says:

        @ Minime
        Please speak for yourself, I have been battling infertility and trying to have children but I do not find what Kerry Washington said offensive.

    • Cranberry says:

      If a woman can’t conceive or chooses not to bare children then THAT IS her life teaching to grow from. If a woman that can’t conceive but wants children in her life, there are several ways to have that even if she doesn’t have $ or the situation to adopt. I know people that foster and I have good friends that consciously reach out to under privilege families and mentor the kids, take them camping, put on holiday parties for the families to attend.

      I think Karry’s statement can also be applied to pets too.

  6. Electric Tuba says:

    Motherhood is not a virtue and this nonsense just rubbed me the wrong way completely. I guess her god is a mean jerk that only rewards certain women with children? Or could it be fertility has nothing to do with prayer, religion, or crossing your stupid fingers for luck? Jerks saying jerk stuff. Typical bull chit.

    The entire interview was just stupid. I hate guns but I’ve got the hoodie. Oh ok!

    Raising kids is hard. Duh!

    Freaking Hollywood man.

    • StallinOnMyWork says:

      Children do not exist to teach adults. That kind of garbage is so dangerous. I grew up in a religion that says kids “choose” their families in heaven before coming down to earth. Sounds nice, right? Except that it is used only by abusers to justify their horribke treatment of their children. Every time the parent is an abusive piece of trash they yell at the kids, “Well, you CHOSE to be here!” It is a classic abuse tactic meant to make victims (children) feel responsible for their ill-treatment. She clearly is grateful for her family, but her words are disgusting, regardless of how she means them.

    • Gigi La Moore says:

      Electric Tuba, I wish you the best because you must be going through something to be do rude to a stranger.

      • Electric Tuba says:

        Oh no did I do a rude? We got C.K. over here calling people klansmen. We’ve got you telling people what they can and can’t say. Man get all the way bent. Bless all yalls hearts.
        I am going through something. I rolled my eyes so hard at all this BS that they fell out of my head and I’m now blind. Pray for me Gigi

    • Lisa says:

      You’re not wrong. That comment was weird, as was the one about the hoodie. It’s not about her being offensive, she just seems really dumb in the interview and it’s changed my opinion of her for sure.

    • Redgrl says:

      @minime, @electrictuba & & @stallinonmywork – fwiw I agree with your points. Her quotes come across as very self-absorbed – that even creating or adopting another little person is all about her – because it’s what God decided SHE needs. Pretty narcissistic imho. As someone who is child free by choice, i too get tired of the constant narrative that those of us who choose not to reproduce are “lesser than”. But my bigger issue with this interview is that I’ve seen friends struggle with infertility and some whose children have been murdered or killed in accidents. I find those quotes offensive to my friends’ – and their children’s – suffering . To suggest that God sending “the children you need” in the context of those tragedies is thoughtless and simplistic and somehow implies they are responsible for or deserving of those tragedies.

  7. Elisa says:

    I agree, it makes for quite a one-sided conversation. Luckily room for discussion was made around “regretting motherhood”…

    I replied to Jay but somehow my comment ended up down here. :)

  8. OCE says:

    @Kaiser: Let’s not forget that indeed Lupita changed the conversation around Harvey Weinstein because after she told her story in that Nytimes op-ed, Weinstein publicly denied her story. He did NOT deny any other story that had been coming out for days/weeks, but when the Black, Academy Award winning actress shared her awful story about her Harvey Weinstein encounter, this white man denied HER story via his lawyers in a statement. Because God forbid a Black woman ever speak her truth against a “powerful” white man in America. We see you America…

  9. Melody calder says:

    I will say this and leave it. I had a traumatic childhood. Having a child of my own, who is very much like me, has helped me grow as a person. I have let things go and grown in my perspective so that I do not continue the cycle of abuse and mistreatment in her life. I want her life to be different than mine. I fail sometimes, usually at least a few times daily but I have found in myself finally the ability to love someone more than I love myself and will do what I can to raise an adjusted, loved human. She is what I needed to move past my past finally. But that’s me.

    • Gigi La Moore says:

      Smiles. :-) . Same here.

    • skipper says:

      I had a very traumatic childhood as well so I completely understand your comment. My father abused me and never loved me. My mom did nothing to stop the abuse. I broke the cycle of abuse when I had my daughter. Much love to you, Melody!

    • Cranberry says:

      Thanks for your comment. I didn’t read KW interview, but I’m know the phrase and understand it’s meaning. Everyone in life is given life’s lessons to deal with and hopefully grow from and not everybody will choose to grow from their experiences with or without having children. I think the phrase of children being teachers is referring more to the immediacy in which your life changes and “is not your own anymore” once you’re responsible (or irresponsible ) for children. It’s not a easy lesson. For many it’s a shock and quite hard to adjust to.

  10. Happy_fat_mamma says:

    Well I’ll tell you I grew from being a Mom… by inches and inches around my middle! HA! Can’t resist a pun.

  11. Arpeggi says:

    The phrasing is self-absorbed and so convoluted! She could have simply said something like “my kids force me to try to be the best version of myself for them”, that would have make more sense.

    Kids aren’t meant to exist so that you can better yourself. You decided to have kids (bio or not) while they never had a say in that decision so you better do your best to make sure that their lives are as pain-free and fullfilling as possible. And you can work on being a better person/citizen/neighbour/friend while being childfree. It has nothing to do with a deity or being a parent, it’s a simple question of will and regards for the world around you