Actress Kerry Washington candidly discusses her decision to turn down roles as the “white girl’s best friend” in her recently published memoir, “Thicker Than Water.” Washington recounts her experience following her appearance in the 2004 boxing drama “Against the Ropes,” starring Meg Ryan and Omar Epps. In the film, Washington portrayed Renee, Jackie Kallen’s (played by Ryan) coworker and confidante. Reflecting on her career trajectory, Kerry Washington reveals that “Against the Ropes” marked the third consecutive project where she found herself cast as the best friend to a white female lead.
Prior to that, she played Julia Stiles’ best friend in 2001’s “Save the Last Dance” and filmed the unreleased pilot for the 2004 Fox dramedy series “Wonderfalls,” where she was set to be Caroline Dhavernas’ best friend before being replaced by Tracie Thoms. Washington explains that her admiration for Meg Ryan, particularly her role in “When Harry Met Sally,” influenced her decision to break free from the “white girl’s best friend” stereotype.
She desired roles that allowed her characters to have their own narratives, rather than serving as accessories to a white woman’s journey. Despite shifting to supporting roles, Kerry Washington found fulfillment in more substantial and nuanced characters, such as Della Bea Robinson in “Ray” opposite Jamie Foxx and Kay Amin in “The Last King of Scotland” alongside Forest Whitaker, both of whom went on to win the Best Actor Oscar.