Life Is Hot for Kerry Washington

She's gone gay on film twice, stumped for Obama, and held her own with Bill Maher. Now Kerry Washington tackles her toughest role to date: as a transsexual, heroin-addicted prostitute in Life Is Hot in Cracktown .




So then, what is an interesting fact about you ... something people might be surprised to learn? I think maybe that I'm so silly. My family thinks it's very strange that I do so much drama in my career because I've always been the clown of my family.

Can I ask about this movie you just did with Annette Bening and Naomi Watts [ Mother and Child ]? Yes, definitely.

It sounds like a thrilling career experience. Completely fulfilling emotionally and artistically.

Tell me a bit about it -- I guess it isn't coming out until next year. Right -- it might do a festival or two before then, but they're still figuring it out. It's Rodrigo García, who also wrote a beautiful film called Nine Lives a few years ago. He's fantastic and brilliant and he writes women as if he was one in a past life. The film is about three different women on their varying journeys dealing with motherhood -- either being a mother or wanting to be or coming to terms with what motherhood means. The stories are related in some way at the end of the film. It's just beautiful. Every once in a while, I get really lucky to read a script like Cracktown or Mother and Child where you're like, "Oh, my God." It takes your breath away.

And then on the complete opposite end of the spectrum for you, Bill Maher -- you've done his show a few times. Have you always been so politically savvy? My family is very politically aware -- dinner in my house has always been a place to discuss the sociopolitical realities of the world. As kids we were always encouraged to participate in those discussions.

I'm assuming you grew up pretty liberal. Yeah, but, it's interesting -- to varying degrees. I would say my mother is a lot more progressive than my dad. My mom is a teacher; my dad's a real estate broker who served time in the military. They're both definite, committed Democrats, but there's a wide range of ideas in my household and in my family.

Was it strange for them to see you play gay on film? Well, I mean -- I think it's going to be weird for your parents to see you get finger-fucked on a kitchen counter regardless of their politics [ laughs ].

This is true -- I'm glad you went there and I didn't. Regardless of your politics, that's weird. So yeah ... that's what it is. But I think ... the other interesting thing is I come from a mixed-race background. My mom is mixed-race, and so in her house growing up, the civil rights movement was a heated time because my mother is the darkest of the seven kids, but she has siblings who don't identify as African-American. So my family has always been a rich atmosphere for diversified ways of thinking about identity and politics and race and gender. So we kind of go there as a family.

When people come to my house, they look at pictures and go, "Who is that? Who is the Asian child sitting on your lap?" I have a cousin who is half Dominican, and then he married a woman from Thailand, and their kids are cousins who I adore. People kind of look at my Christmas pictures and go, "I don't understand" [ laughing ].

It's a good example for what makes a family, because it isn't always cut-and-dried. You're right. Exactly.

Tags: film