Kerry Washington Reflects on Privilege: It's Time to Stop Thinking of the Less Fortunate as "Other"

Plus, her moving thoughts on Paris.

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(Image credit: Getty; design by Katja Cho)

Kerry Washington knows how lucky she is. But sometimes, she grapples with the idea of who she is now and who she could have been—a woman in Hollywood with a double degree from a prestigious university and extraordinary access, vs. a woman with five children, no degree, and very limited resources. 

While being presented (by friend and collaborator Shonda Rhimes) with the Giving Tree Award for her work with Baby2Baby (opens in new tab), an organization that provides children with basic necessities, the mother of one discussed her life and where it could have gone, had it not been for the generosity of others and her parents. 

"I share that with you because what Baby2Baby does means a lot to me, because it's not about 'others,'" Washington said. "What I want you to do tonight, what I'm asking you to do tonight, is to let go of that sense of 'other.' If you can tonight, not just think of this as charity, but think of this as humanity. We are all in the same city, we are all in the same boat." 

Washington's own mother Valerie was in the audience, and as Washington closed out her acceptance she took a moment to talk pay tribute to 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 said. "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: Thank you for getting me from the Bronx to here."

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Samantha Leal
Samantha Leal

Samantha Leal is the Deputy Editor at Well+Good, where she spends most of her day thinking of new ideas across platforms, bringing on new writers, overseeing the day-to-day of the website, and working with the awesome team to produce the best stories and packages. Before W+G, she was the Senior Web Editor for Marie Claire and the Deputy Editor for Latina.com, with bylines all over the internet. Graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a minor in African history, she’s written everything from travel guides to political op-eds to wine explainers (currently enrolled in the WSET program) to celebrity profiles. Find her online pretty much everywhere @samanthajoleal.