“Confirmation,” HBO’s new film depicting the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas (Wendell Pierce) and Anita Hill (Kerry Washington), is the latest drama to dive into the riveting, TV-news cycle of the early ’90s.
HBO hosted a VIP screening of the film at the Signature Theater in New York on Thursday night. Arriving on the heels of “The People v. OJ Simpson,” and in the middle of political scuffle to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, the film couldn’t come at a better time.
“This [story] was forgotten because the country wanted to sweep it under the rug,” Washington, who is also an executive producer, said at a panel following the film, moderated by journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. “This country was like, ‘We don’t know what to make of what that was. We don’t know how to think about those two very well-spoken black people that appear to be fighting with each other.’ So we just haven’t dealt with it, and yet, we’re still trying to figure out as a country how to have these very important conversations about gender, about race, about power, and who knew that this movie would come out and we would have another Supreme Court that we are trying to fill.”
Washington said she was drawn to the story because, even as a child, she realized the factors at play in the hearings were complicated. She remembered her mother and father responding to the news event very differently.
“In my house we were always on the same page when it came to issues,” Washington said. “These hearings came along and my father was engaging in these very specific ways watching as an African-American man’s reputation and his career was being stripped from him, and my mother was identifying as an African-American professional woman. It was one of the first moments that I became aware of my own intersectionality in terms of race and gender. I belong to a couple of boxes, and they might be at odds with each other.”
Washington recently took to Instagram to criticize the photoshopping of her own image on a the latest cover of Adweek.
Regarding her decision to address the photo on social media, Washington told Variety, “I was uncomfortable, and I’m really proud of the article. It said a lot of things. My whole team has worked so hard to build the partnerships that we have built and to create the community and the culture that we are, so I was excited, and then when I saw the cover I felt really conflicted, as I said on Instagram. I wanted to support the article but the cover also. I was taken aback. I just wanted to be honest.”
“Confirmation” premieres on HBO on April 16.