PASADENA, Calif. – Kerry Washington wants to know why working in blockbusters and being in charge of her career should be mutually exclusive.
When a reporter asked the star if she planned to keep producing her own work or appear in blockbuster films, she had a simple response.
“I don’t know why we can’t be in charge of blockbusters,” Washington said at the Television Critics Association Friday. “Why are they mutually exclusive questions?”
Washington and Reese Witherspoon partner as stars and producers on Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere” (premiering March 18), based on Celeste Ng’s 2017 bestselling novel of the same name, and both champion the ability to carve their own destinies in an industry that has long been incredibly controlling of women.
“Choices used to be made for me a lot,” Witherspoon said. “I made a conscious decision about eight years ago to start my own company because I wasn’t happy with the choices that were being made for me, and I didn’t see a place for me to exist in the industry that we have.”
Starting her production company, Hello Sunshine, about the same time as the streaming boom began made it easier for Witherspoon to create TV shows and films.
It “has changed my entire experience, and now I primarily generate everything that I do … which wasn’t possible eight years ago, she said.” Recent co-stars Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Aniston “remarked about how much things have changed. … We’re just going to keep going and keep doing it.”
Women in Hollywood were often separated from each other, Washington said. An unintentional benefit of the anti-sexual-harassment Time’s Up movement has been bringing women together, allowing them to collaborate on more and different projects.
“One of the extraordinary impacts of the Time’s Up movement is that so many of us came together to try to champion the cause of equity and safety in the workplace. But when we came together we were no longer siloed,” the “Scandal” star said. “In that sisterhood, we got to ask each other how can we get together to create.”
Washington and Witherspoon chose to work together on “Little Fires,” in which they play mothers with radically different attitudes toward work and family in Ohio in 1997.
“I think from the beginning, the book really delves into class and sociopolitical differences and cultural differences,” Washington said. “And I think adding race into that (and) stepping away from the binary idea of race in this country … it’s a lot to unpack. … It’s wonderful because all of these issues are present, but they’re really embodied in these really (complex) women.”
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