Kerry Washington displayed images of teenager Trayvon Martin, 12-year-old Tamir Rice, Philando Castile and other black men and women killed by police backstage during her run in Broadway’s American Son.
The actress, who starred in the New York production as a woman grieving the loss of her son at the hands of law enforcement officers in 2018, reveals she put the images up in her dressing room as a reminder of the unsettling true stories that inspired the play.
“I had a wall of my dressing room at the theatre dedicated to images of a lot of these young men,” she tells Deadline. “Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile… And women, too, like Sandra Bland.”
The Scandal star would also add to the image collection, each time another similar tragedy took place.
“When a new incident happened, I would add pictures to that wall, because it felt to me like the play was, in some ways, a magnificent prayer to the unraveling of these injustices,” she shared. “I was constantly adding pictures to it, until it took up the entire wall.”
Washington notes that the grim realities depicted in the stage work, and the Netflix adaptation of the story, were always a part of the Black experience but have since gained more attention due to technology.
“Sadly, nothing in American Son is new. For me, and for a lot of people in the Black community, this has always been present. Stories like these precede the introduction of these little personal computers and video cameras we all walk around with today. And I think, for a long time, people thought that Black people were making a big deal out of something that wasn’t really there…” she shared.
“Now, because we have the power of capturing these images and this behaviour, we’re seeing there’s a different reality at hand.”