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, 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

I'm Sam, the senior editor at I love shining a light on awesome people doing things that matter, cool products and hacks for everyday life, and advice you'll actually use. I'm pretty much always looking for the perfect GIF for any situation. When I'm not trolling the internet, I can be found dancing like a weirdo or napping like it's my job. Right now, I'm probably eating or drinking something filled with sugar or booze. (Sorry, mom.)