2014 TIME 100 Most Influential People: The Artists
Occasionally in American pop culture, an icon emerges who captivates us and provides a vivid snapshot of who we are and the changing times in which we live. In her role as Olivia Pope, Scandal’s unflappable political fixer, Kerry Washington has used her grace and vibrant magnetism to transcend age, race and gender, and to provide a new mainstream media lens through which to view modern womanhood and professional excellence.
Setting aside the “scandalous” melodrama necessary to sustain a fictional series so titled, Kerry has offered up a fresh new archetype for what it means to lead while combining courage and compassion, strength and vulnerability, passion, steely discipline and unfailing loyalty. It is a role that makes full use of her distinctive talent for drawing in audiences with such authenticity that we often forget she is acting.
Kerry’s work with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities since 2009 is also a source of deep inspiration, using arts education to close achievement gaps and ignite passion among young people.
In a world that too often tells little girls to choose between womanhood and success, between femininity and a seat at the head of the table, both onscreen and off Kerry Washington embodies the promise that lives in all our young people to shape their own destinies and succeed as “gladiators” for the causes in which they believe.
written by Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States and Assistant to the President for Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs in the Obama administration
Black women who made the Time 100 List For 2014. Creative singer, dancer, artist, philanthropist and feminist Beyoncé, creative outspoken actor, artist and feminist Kerry Washington, tennis legend, philanthropist and business owner Serena Williams, Chicagoan and now head of U.N. World Food Programme Ertharin Cousin, Nigerian economist and past Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Ugandan activist Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, South African human rights lawyer Thuli Madonsela, and Kenyan tech guru Ory Okolloh.
Laverne Cox and Janet Mock DIDN’T make the list though. Clearly both had a major impact in 2013. Both have been outspoken about Black trans women and trans women of colour’s rights and lives, both have created remarkable and important art and both have been influential and highly visible. They should’ve been there. Easily.
Beyoncé made the Time 100 List in 2013 as well, but this year has the cover after a successful and influential year in 2013, from her Super Bowl performance, to her world tour, to her incredible visual album BEYONCÉ, to being more outspoken with her feminist politics through her music, and through other projects—some I like (speaking, writing, fundraising, philanthropy), some I’ve critiqued (i.e. #BanBossy/Lean In)—all while being committed to her family, her marriage to Jay-Z and motherhood to Blue Ivy.
As I wrote about yesterday, there is a DIFFERENCE between the legitimate desire for representation of Black women’s humanity in the media while still creating our own media (as ignoring the mainstream does not erase harmful messages about us are placed there) and "oh that’s White approval!" This distinction and understanding of how media representation impacts us is important.
I’m also just really fascinated constantly by the idea, and this is in conversation, you know, I’m not challenging the way our government works in this area, but in conversation it’s fascinating to me…
"I don’t think I’m even close to fulfilling my potential. And I think also that, unlike a pianist or a flutist, an actor has an instrument that is constantly changing."