Kerry Washington is among the actresses to watch.

Her splash in Hollywood began on ABC’s “Magical Make-Over” in 1994, which opened doors for other projects including “Standard Deviants” and her film debut in “Our Song.”

It was while working on this project that she read the script for “Save the Last Dance.” She landed the role and portrayed Chenille Reynolds, a single teenage mother.

“‘Save The Last Dance’ and ‘Our Song,’ those films will always be for me very tied to each other,” Washington said in an interview with Vanity Fair in 2019.

First Major Payday

Washington also landed her first big paycheck with the 2001 film, which was a commercial success.

“This is so Bronx girl of me. My first movie was a crazy guerilla filmmaking, independent movie, so our transpo department was a Metrocard. ‘Save the Last Dance’ was my second movie, and we had a per diem,” Washington explained, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “I couldn’t believe somebody was handing me cash, and I literally used to hide it under my mattress for the whole movie. I put myself on a tight budget of what I could spend. And at the end of it, I used all the cash from the three months and bought my first laptop.”


Washington’s stardom steadily showed itself as she continued her trajectory. Another big break came with her work on a critically acclaimed 2004 movie, “Ray,” starring Hollywood greats such as Jamie Foxx and Regina King.

She describes this time period of her career as a game changer and says this was the reason for her first appearance at the Golden Globes.


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There are numerous awards associated with the film, including a Golden Globe, a Grammy, and an Image Award, in which Washington won Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture.

“It was a very special time. A big change for me and my career,” Washington expressed in to Vanity Fair. “‘Ray’ premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. So, I’ll never forget being part of an elite festival circuit. Making sure that the film lived in the world in the way that the studio wanted it to. Making sure that it was considered for awards.”

Washington continued to increase her price tag in Hollywood thanks to additional movies such as “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” “The Last King of Scotland,” and “Django Unchained,” which she recalls as one her toughest projects.

“To make myself that psychologically, emotionally, and physically vulnerable was a huge challenge and cost me a lot for a while in terms of my spirit, but it also gave me the ability to feel like there was nothing I couldn’t handle,” she said.

Breaking Barriers For Role In Scandal

The film also prepared her for one of her most notable roles as Olivia Pope in ABC’s “Scandal,” Washington adds. During her seven-season run, she became the first African-American woman to lead a network drama in nearly 40 years, according to The New York Times.


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“I fought for it,” Washington expressed to Variety. “I remember I bought a suit for my audition. I did not have the income to go out and buy myself a suit but I did. I think at Loehmann’s in New York. As an athlete would say ‘I left it all out on the field’ when I auditioned, but I still didn’t know if it was mine, but when it was, I never ever thought that it would be the cultural phenomenon that it became. Never in my wildest dreams. I knew that I had never been number one on the call sheet before and so that this was the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Per TVLINE, Washington reportedly earned $80,000 per episode during the early seasons. This went as high as $250,000 per episode when the show reached its peak.

She received Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for two consecutive years and won Best Actress at the 2014 BET Awards.

Today, you can find Washington on Hulu’s comedy television series “Unprisoned.”


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It should come as no surprise that Washington’s time in Hollywood has led to an estimated fortune valued at $50 million, per Celebrity Net Worth. She has also had endorsement deals with Neutrogena, Apple, and Movado.