Kerry Washington is a powerhouse in the entertainment industry. Known for her incredible acting skills (including her signature, emotional mouth acting that the internet loves), magnetic presence and a career that spans both the big and small screens, she is a force to be reckoned with. From her groundbreaking role in television to her captivating performances in film, Washington has made a lasting impression on viewers with her iconic characters and even better delivery.
These are some of Washington’s most notable movies and TV shows ranked based on their reception from viewers, as well as IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes rankings.
7. Little Man (2006)
Rotten Tomatoes: 12%
In the 2006 comedy film Little Man, Kerry Washington plays the character Vanessa Edwards. Vanessa and her husband, Darryl, played by Shawn Wayans, find themselves in a bizarre situation when they unwittingly become involved with a diminutive thief who is posing as a baby. Washington’s character is central to the film’s comedic plot as she grapples with the absurdity of the situation and attempts to navigate the challenges that arise. Little Man is known for its slapstick humor and for many Gen Z and Millennials, a cursed childhood classic. Washington’s performance added to the film’s comedic dynamics and is key to what the movie came to be.
6. American Son (2019)
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
In the 2019 Netflix film American Son, Kerry Washington reprises her role from the Broadway play of the same name. She plays Kendra Ellis-Connor, a mother desperately seeking answers about her missing son. Set in a police station waiting room during the early hours of the morning, the film explores themes of race, identity and systemic issues within the American criminal justice system. Washington’s portrayal of Kendra is emotionally charged and powerful, capturing the pain, frustration and fear of a mother in crisis. While the film received mixed reviews, Washington’s performance was widely praised for its depth and authenticity.
5. Ray (2004)
Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
In the biographical film Ray, Kerry Washington played Della Bea Robinson, the wife of the legendary musician Ray Charles. While her role in the film is primarily a supporting one, Washington’s portrayal of Della Bea adds emotional depth to the story. She captures the challenges and complexities of a marriage intertwined with the highs and lows of Ray Charles’ career and personal life. Washington’s performance contributes to the film’s overall impact and authenticity, making Ray a compelling biographical drama. The film, starring Jamie Foxx in the titular role, received widespread praise and earned multiple Academy Awards.
4. Little Fires Everywhere (2020)
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
In the 2020 Hulu miniseries Little Fires Everywhere, Kerry Washington takes on the role of Mia Warren, a complex and free-spirited artist. Mia becomes intimately involved in the lives of a seemingly perfect suburban family, the Richardsons, played by Reese Witherspoon and Joshua Jackson. As Mia, Washington brings depth and mystery to the character, whose past is shrouded in secrets. Her performance as Mia Warren in this adaptation of Celeste Ng’s novel captivated viewers and added layers of intrigue to the story, exploring themes of motherhood, race and privilege in a seemingly idyllic community.
3. Confirmation (2016)
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
In the 2016 HBO film Confirmation, Kerry Washington takes on the role of Anita Hill, a law professor who becomes a central figure in a highly controversial and publicized confirmation hearing. Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, and her testimony against him led to a national conversation about workplace harassment and gender dynamics. Washington’s portrayal of Anita Hill is a powerful and nuanced depiction of a real-life figure who stood up against formidable odds. Her performance in Confirmation received critical acclaim and highlighted the importance of the events surrounding the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in American history.
2. Django Unchained (2012)
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
In Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 film Django Unchained, Kerry Washington plays the character Broomhilda von Shaft. She is the wife of the titular character, Django, portrayed by Jamie Foxx. Broomhilda is a slave who has been separated from her husband, and their journey to reunite forms a central plot point in the film. Washington’s portrayal of Broomhilda showcases her resilience and vulnerability in the face of the horrors of slavery. Her performance contributes to the film’s powerful and daring exploration of the brutality of the American South during that era, earning both critical acclaim and adding depth to the story.
1. Scandal (2012-2018)
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Kerry Washington’s role in Scandal catapulted her to stardom. In the hit TV series, Kerry Washington portrays the iconic character Olivia Pope. She brings to life the brilliant and tenacious crisis management expert who runs her own firm in Washington, D.C. Olivia Pope is known for her impeccable problem-solving skills and her ability to handle high-stakes political and personal crises. Throughout the series, Washington’s portrayal of Pope captivated audiences with her charisma, intelligence and unwavering determination to protect her clients and navigate the treacherous world of politics and power. The role earned Kerry Washington widespread acclaim and multiple award nominations while solidifying her status as a leading actress on television.
Kerry Washington’s filmography is a testament to her versatility and talent as an actress. From political dramas to historical biopics and thought-provoking miniseries, she continues to captivate audiences with her compelling performances. As she embarks on new projects and continues to make her mark in Hollywood, it’s clear that Kerry Washington’s star will continue to shine brightly in the world of film and television.