Kerry Washington is a more open book than ever.
The A-lister, 46, spoke recently with Access Hollywood at the Boys & Girls club in her hometown of the Bronx, where she celebrated the release of her new memoir, “Thicker Than Water,” and reflected on telling her story in her words.
Kerry noted that she’s a “very private person” despite spending much of her professional life in the public eye, and how she embraced getting so personal on such a large platform.
“I honestly think just the action itself of sharing so many details about my life was, at times, I thought I was crazy. I was like, ‘What am I doing?! Who am I?'” she laughed. “But it was also really healing and I’m glad that I did it.”
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The actress recalled learning a bombshell family secret that serves as the book’s central topic and why the experience was the catalyst for a new journey of self-discovery.
“It was about five years ago when my parents sat me down and shared this really revelatory news with me,” she shared, adding, “I think it was hard for my parents in a way because they had kept this secret for 40 years but it was hard for me because it really redefined my idea of who I was and who my family is and it kind of made me go back and question a lot.”
When asked how her relationship with her mother and father has since evolved, Kerry shared with Access why she values the challenge of having faced such a major upheaval and how it ultimately strengthened her family’s bond.
“It’s so interesting because a lot of times we don’t tell the hard truths because we think that if we risk honesty then we’ll lose the people that we care about. And, you know, that might be true in some situations. But in my experience, the experience that I share in the book, the more truth and transparency that I had with my parents the more intimacy and love we were able to share,” she explained. “We don’t have secrets from each other anymore. There’s this great saying that I love that’s, ‘you’re as sick as your secrets’ and we get to let go and start healing together as a family.”
Now, the Emmy winner said she’s looking forward to exploring what’s next after finding liberation through a new creative process.
“Every time that I get to be more and more in the truth of who I am, I feel a little bit more free. That’s really exciting,” she said, when reflecting on an excerpt from the book in which she wrote that the “gift of finally knowing the truth outweighed the pain of what the truth was.”
The mom of two went on to smile about husband of 10 years Nnamdi Asomugha and how she shared previously unknown details about their love story in the book. The couple are also parents and Kerry shared her thoughts on having their children read “Thicker Than Water” one day and why she feels they’ll be ready.
“I think I’m hopeful that nothing in the book is a surprise to them when they read it because I’m able to talk to them about the truth of who I am all along the way. So by the time they read it I feel like maybe they’ll know most of these things,” she said. “I hope I’m able to be that generous with them about my own vulnerabilities, at the right times.”
Kerry’s husband and parents were among the earliest loved ones who got an early peek at “Thicker Than Water,” but she also sought the opinion of a trusted colleague – longtime friend Shonda Rhimes, with whom she worked on “Scandal.” Kerry confirmed to Access that the TV icon was one of the first people to read the memoir and gave her “extraordinary” and “brilliant feedback” as “one of the best writers on the planet,” and it turns out Shonda had been encouraging Kerry to get her thoughts on paper for some time!
“She wanted me to write a book for over 10 years, yeah,” Kerry smiled. “Just because she had heard my speeches and we had talked so much about the writing on ‘Scandal’ and she was like, ‘I know you have a book in you’ and I was like, ‘No way!'”
Shonda isn’t the only famous pal on Kerry’s mailing list! She also sent the book to “Ray” and “Django Unchained” co-star Jamie Foxx and raved to Access about how grateful she is to have been able to give him a special shoutout.
“Jamie has been such a force for good and such a role model for me throughout my career, so I’m glad that I was able to give him his flowers, as the kids say,” Kerry smiled.
“Thicker Than Water” is on sale Sept. 26 wherever books are sold.
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