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Kerry Washington Opens Up About Privilege and Giving Back at Baby2Baby Gala

Shonda Rhimes stepped up to the podium at Saturday’s Baby2Baby gala in Culver City to introduce the evening’s honoree, her friend and “Scandal” star, Kerry Washington.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for the news that someone aside from my sisters was going to have a baby than I was when Kerry Washington told me she was pregnant,” Rhimes said. In 2014, Washington gave birth to a daughter, Isabelle. “We were in her trailer, and I think I danced. Or maybe I jumped up and down, but whatever I did, her trailer was rocking.”

The showrunner praised the actress, who received the Giving Tree Award for her work with Baby2Baby, a non-profit foundation that provides children with basic necessities. “Kerry is changing the lives of children in general. As many as she can. Which may sound ambitious, but if you think that, you don’t know Kerry.”

Rhimes listed off some of Washington’s other charity credentials which include sitting on President Obama’s committee on the arts and humanities; advocating for the Purple Purse project, which works to protect women against domestic violence; and supporting V-Day, which works to end predatory violence against women. “Bringing children to the arts, ending domestic violence, giving women financial independence, she’s gladiating for families,” Rhimes said. “So you get why I jumped up and down in the trailer, right?”

Rhimes wasn’t the only one who thanked Washington for her charitable work: in one video, Michelle Obama expressed her gratitude, and in another, Oprah Winfrey, Tony Goldwyn and Jane Fonda spoke about the actress’ inspiring work off-screen.

In her speech, Washington shared her experience going to her obstetrician in Beverly Hills, whose husband worked with less privileged women. “I would ask about these other women because I would try to put myself in their shoes and make sense of their life versus my life,” Washington said. “Try to make sense of this little girl from the Bronx who suddenly was walking into a doctor’s office in Beverly Hills — try to make sense of the fact that I come from a neighborhood where really by now I should have five kids and no degree and maybe be on unemployment.” The actress said the experience forced her to reconcile her own privilege. She stopped thinking about less fortunate families as “other” and urged everyone at the gala to close the gap in their minds as well.

She also took a brief moment to address the recent terror attacks in Paris. “I think that in light of what’s happened in the world, just to remember how much we have to be grateful for. And I’m so grateful for all of you.” She finished her speech by saying a few heartfelt thank yous. “I’m so grateful for my family who is here tonight — for my amazing husband who is here even though our bathroom exploded today. He figured out a way to solve that problem — he’s the real gladiator. And to my beautiful mom who is here; thank you for getting me from the Bronx to here.”

Baby2Baby co-presidents Kelly Sawyer Patricof and Norah Weinstein, Jessica Alba, Julie Bowen, Reese Witherspoon, Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan, Jessica Biel and Gwen Stefani were among the many other celebrity guests at the gala at 3Labs. Attendees feasted on a dishes from more than a dozen of L.A.’s best and most beloved restaurants, including charcoal potatoes with caviar cream served by Ink chef Michael Voltaggio and burgundy escargots with garlic and parsley butter from Petit Trois. In total, the event raised over $2.1 million.

(Pictured: Kerry Washington and her mother Valerie Washington at the Baby2Baby Gala)

Jessica Biel and Jessica Alba at the Baby2Baby Gala
Movi Inc/WWD/Rex Shutterstock
Busy Philipps, Kelly Sawyer Patricof, Norah Weinstein and Reese Witherspoon at the Baby2Baby Gala
Movi Inc/WWD/Rex Shutterstock
Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum at the Baby2Baby Gala
Movi Inc/WWD/Rex Shutterstock

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