Kerry Washington on life, in general and in “Cracktown”


The July issue of Essence includes an interview with Kerry Washington. She comes across as strong, smart and generally awesome — like a survivor. Narrowly miss a tsunami in Thailand? Sure. Overcome an eating disorder? Definitely. Handle the hassles of fame? Yep: “I don’t live my life based on bloggers; I live my life based on what my heart is telling me to do.”

Washington’s career has featured a couple of lesbian roles, in She Hate Me and The Dead Girl.

Dania Ramirez as Alex and Kerry Washington as Fatima in She Hate Me

Marcia Gay Harden and Kerry Washington in The Dead Girl

And Washington plays a transgender prostitute in the upcoming film Life Is Hot in Cracktown. She was concerned about doing that role justice:

Washington spent months working with [transgender] activist Valerie Spenser. At her own expense, Washington paid Spenser to show up on set every day to ensure the actress’s performance rang authentic.

Nicely done. That says a lot about Washington: Not only did she understand that the role might be a challenge, but she also thought it was worth the extra expense and effort to get it right. (Daniela Sea, are you reading this?)

Life Is Hot in Cracktown, based on the Buddy Giovinazzo novel of the same name, sounds pretty depressing. (I guess you can tell that from the title.)

Alcoholics, tenements, a missing girl, prostitutes galore and abusive boyfriends — I hope Washington’s role will make all that heaviness tolerable. Lara Flynn Boyle and Illeana Douglas also star, so maybe it’s worth the pain. I’ll just have to take Washington’s advice: “OK. As scared as I might be about all the unknowns in my life, I’m alive. I should embrace the adventure rather than have it put me in a corner and shut me down.”

Or I’ll just follow the advice that’s implicit in this photo of Washington with Gina Torres at the premiere of I Think I Love My Wife. Actually, I don’t know what it’s saying, exactly, but I think I like it.

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