×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Kerry Washington Reflects on the Harsh Realities Depicted in ‘American Son’

Kerry Washington’s latest film “American Son” hits close to home for the star, giving her reason to reflect on the way she moves through the world as a black woman.

“I worry when I’m driving. I worry when my 80-year-old father is driving,” Washington told Variety at the Toronto Film Festival Studio presented by AT&T, addressing the film’s themes of racial profiling, police brutality and the tensions around the two in today’s world.

“We actually took a road trip recently as a family and I was in one car, my dad was driving another car. And he was like, ‘Oh I have to go back and get my ID,’ because the thought of him getting caught in car without the proper ID terrifies him at 80-years-old,” she recalled.”

“He’s not like a ‘thuggish’ teenager,'” Washington continued, using air-quotes. “He’s a distinguished man of an age who knows that being, walking in the world in brown skin puts him in danger in a different kind of way.”

“I think about my kids driving, my husband [actor Nnamdi Asomugha] driving,” she concluded. “It’s real.”

American Son” tells the story of Kendra Ellis-Conor (Washington) and Scott (played by Steven Pasquale), a separated, interracial couple who reunite in a Florida police station as they search for answers surrounding the disappearance of their teenage son, who may have died at the hands of police. Washington originated the role on Broadway in November 2018, playing the agonized mother onstage.

The film adaptation of the play, written by Christopher Demos-Brown and directed by Kenny Leon, will debut Nov. 1 on Netflix. It reunites the creative team and cast (which also stars Jeremy Jordan and Eugene Lee). Washington produced the play alongside Shonda Rhimes, Jada Pinkett Smith, Steve Stoute, Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade. She also serves as an executive producer on the film.

Washington says she also relates to the story as a mother. Of how the she plans to explain these sensitive topics to her children, she replied, “I haven’t figured that out.”

“I haven’t figured out how exactly to navigate all of this as a parent,” Washington explained. “I think that’s also one of the reasons I was drawn to ‘American Son,’ because you really see how challenging it is for us as parents of black children to help our kids find a way in the world, to know how loved they are in a world that has institutional practices that make them feel less than.”

“But that’s my goal, right?,” she asked. “I have a lot of goals as a mom. But one of them is to help my kids be safe and feel loved, and know the truth of the world that they live in, but also know the truth of who they are. And they are special. They are not presumed guilty or evil or criminal.”

More Film

  • There's Something in the Water

    Toronto Film Review: 'There’s Something in the Water'

    Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the unpleasant sights, smells and pollutants of industry have typically been located where the poor folk dwell, and police society needn’t notice. With the dawn of popular environmental consciousness about a half-century ago, it became clear that toxic byproducts with a dismayingly long shelf life and unknown (or, [...]

  • 'David Foster: Off the Record' Review:

    Toronto Film Review: 'David Foster: Off the Record'

    By the early 1970s, as the counterculture was dissolving and reconfiguring, there were new pop-star archetypes on the horizon that we still tend to think of — the glam rocker, the sensitive singer-songwriter, the hair-band metal strutter, the prog-rock wizard, the belting pop chanteuse, the punk rocker. But there was another figure of the era [...]

  • Bob IgerSimon Weisenthal Gala honoring Bob

    Bob Iger Would Have Combined Disney With Apple if Steve Jobs Were Still Alive

    Disney and Apple are both launching their own streaming services come November, but Disney CEO Bob Iger says the two companies weren’t always on competing paths. In an excerpt from his autobiography published Wednesday in “Vanity Fair,” Iger revealed that Disney and Apple likely would have merged if Steve Jobs hadn’t died in 2011. “I [...]

  • Aaron Janus Lionsgate

    Lionsgate Hires 'A Quiet Place' Producer Aaron Janus as Senior VP of Production

    Lionsgate has hired Aaron Janus as its new senior vice president of production and promoted Meredith Wieck to the post of vice president of production.  Prior to Lionsgate, Janus served as Platinum Dunes’ head of development, where he oversaw filmmakers Brad Fuller, Andrew Form and Michael Bane. There, he brought in “A Quiet Place,” on [...]

  • Ang Lee Reveals First Look at

    Ang Lee on 'Gemini Man' and De-Aging Will Smith

    On paper, Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” is a standard-issue, shoot ’em up with Will Smith playing a deadly assassin who must battle a younger clone of himself. The explosions and gun battles aren’t what drew Lee to the project, even if they’re the reason that most people will show up at theaters when it opens [...]

  • Hopper Reserve

    Dennis Hopper's Dying Wish: His Own Strain of Marijuana

    Even as celebrity brands are starting to flood the emerging Cannabis market, Hopper Reserve stands out. The brand was launched by Marin Hopper, Dennis Hopper’s daughter from his marriage to Brooke Hayward. Hopper Reserve is a gram of California indoor-grown flower, two packs of rolling papers, a pair of matches and a trading card either [...]

  • Sean Clarke Aardman Staff Photography Bristol.Pic

    Aardman Appoints Sean Clarke as New Managing Director

    Aardman, the Oscar-winning animation studio behind “Chicken Run” and “Early Man,” has appointed Sean Clarke as its new managing director, replacing co-founder David Sproxton, who is stepping down after 43 years. Clarke has worked at the British studio for more than 20 years, including heading the international rights and marketing department for over a decade. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content