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Kerry Washington talks about her latest role with Eddie Murphy in “A Thousand Words”

Kam Williams | 3/1/2012, 7:17 a.m.

Kerry Washington talks about her latest role with Eddie Murphy in “A Thousand Words”

Born in the Bronx on January 31, 1977, Kerry Washington attended the Spence School and graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from George Washington University. After making an impressive film debut in “Our Song” in 2000, she went on to win the NAACP Image Award just five years later for playing Ray Charles’ wife, Della, opposite Jamie Foxx in “Ray.”

She will again be paired with Jamie as his spouse in “Django Unchained,” Quentin Tarantino’s revenge flick about slavery in the antebellum South.  

Over the course of her rise in Hollywood, Washington has proved to be a versatile thespian by virtue of an impressive list of credits that includes memorable performances in “Mother and Child,” “Night Catches Us,” “For Colored Girls,” “The Last King of Scotland,” “The Dead Girl” and “Lakeview Terrace.”

She has also co-starred in “Fantastic Four” and its sequel, “Rise of the Silver Surfer,” “Miracle at St. Anna,” “I Think I Love My Wife,” “Little Man,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” “She Hate Me,” “Against the Ropes,” “The Human Stain” and “Save the Last Dance.”

On the small screen, Washington is set to play the lead role of Olivia Pope on “Scandal,” a dramatic TV-series premiering on ABC in April.

What interested you in ‘A Thousand Words?’

I really liked the message of the film, as well as the opportunity to work with Eddie Murphy.  

What was it like working with Eddie?

It was great! It was particularly fun for me because I had worked with so many people who looked up to Eddie who had been inspired to go into the business by him, from Chris Rock to Jamie Foxx to the Wayans Brothers. So, it was like finally going to the source.

Did you ever have trouble keeping a straight face on the set?

Yeah, he’s very funny. But he’s also incredibly focused, and takes comedy very seriously, if that makes any sense. [Chuckles]

Of course it does. What message do you think people will take away from the movie?

It’s kind of about valuing your words, understanding that what you say has consequences, and that you can’t just B.S. your way through life.  

If you could go back in time and give yourself at 18 a piece of advice, what would that be?

Relax and enjoy the ride. It gets easier.

What is your favorite charity?

Well, I’m on the board of V-Day, which is a global movement to end violence against women. I’m very passionate about that. We have a new campaign called One Billion Rising.

How can our stars and idols avoid the pressure that celebrity brings in order to prevent the kind of tragedy we all witnessed recently when we mourned the passing of Whitney Houston?

I’m reluctant to comment about preventing that specifically, since we don’t yet know all the details, and because I didn’t know Whitney well enough. So, I can’t say how we can avoid repeating that particular tragedy. But I will say that, for me, it is important to have friends and family around that I love and trust and who love and trust me. And having a great therapist also helps.