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

Kerry Washington Baby2Baby gala mother Valerie
Movi Inc/WWD/Rex Shutterstock

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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  1. WL says:

    Ha. There’s no bigger fraud at the moment than this phony and desperate wannabe. She and her PR people run around scouring for any award they can line up for her no matter how ridiculous or undeserved. That is when they aren’t making up phantom twitter followers and fake fans to boost her stock. The whole thing is a complete farce and the woman is so phony and has appropriated too many people’s life stories as hers, with her story lines and the names she drops, constantly changing to impress or fit in with whatever group or person she’s looking to ingratiate herself with at any moment. it’s a wonder she can keep her tall stories straight when she isn’t contradicting tales she told just a few years back. She forgets that try as they may, her PR people can’t erase everything in their attempt to reinvent her. When she isn’t embellishing, she’s stealing people’s experiences as hers. Everything about her is contrived and fake, including the feigned syrupy image. The funniest is the activist part. As if cunningly leeching onto the campaign of a charming Senator they all had a crush on, and only to get close to him, is how actual political activism works. And she hasn’t stopped leeching. To hear her tell it, you’d think she was the only one, and not one of several actor/actress types on the president’s Arts and Humanities committee. The others go about doing this mostly token assignment without any fanfare, and as unceremoniously as it calls for. But she uses it to name-drop the president at every turn and only to be seen as relevant.

    The woman is conniving and quite warped, but it’s only a matter of time before the people who do know the truth get tired of the charade and finally expose her. Or she has a full-blown meltdown from trying to keep the scam going and her lies straight.

    How disappointing that Mrs Obama has allowed herself to be sucked into this twisted actress’s web of lies and deceit. Hopefully, the admirably wise and perceptive First Lady is just being gracious, and at the very most, is only playing along.

    • jeni l gray says:

      Sorry I just saw this. You sound somewhat bitter. How can you buy awards? If possible why hasn’t Kerry been able to buy those she has been nominated for? You don’t give these organizations much credit when you make those kinds of statements. Why aren’t you the one exposing Kerry, since you seem to have so much info?

  2. CBCOOPER says:

    ZEN I couldn’t agree with you more. Kerry fills me with so much pride. She’s a 100% Class Act that our society seems to be lacking & it’s a sad commentary.

  3. Zen Grant says:

    I’ve been following Kerry’s career for the last 8 years and I am so proud of her and the way she carries herself.
    One is never too old to learn and as a 70 year old of Jamaican heritage I’ve learned a lot from Kerry.

    Congratulations to Kerry and continued successes and good health to her and her family including her mom and dad.

    Sincerely, Zen

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