Star of US TV’s hit Scandal Kerry Washington has used her acceptance speech at the GLAAD Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday to explain what it means to be ‘other’ in society.
Washington was awarded the Vanguard Award by the US lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy organization, which is presented to media professionals who, through their work, have increased the visibility and understanding of the LGBT community.
Washington brought the audience to their feet with a stirring speech that rallied for diverse LGBT inclusion in media and equality.
“I don’t decide to play the characters I play as a political choice,”Washington began.
“Yet the characters I play often do become political statements because having your story told as a woman, as a person of color, as a lesbian, as a trans person, or as any member of any disenfranchised community, is sadly often still a radical idea.”
“There is so much power in storytelling, and there is enormous power in inclusive storytelling, in inclusive representations.”
“We need more LGBT representation in the media. We need more LGBT characters and more LGBT storytelling. We need more diverse LGBT representation. And by that, I mean lots of different kinds of LGBT people living all different kinds of lives.”
“And this is big—we need more employment of LGBT people in front of and behind the camera.”
Washington continued to suggest the LGBT community must be allies with the other minorities in the community.
“To be represented is to be humanized, and as long as anyone anywhere is being made to feel less human, our very definition of humanity is at stake, and we are all vulnerable.”
“We must see each other, all of us. And we must see ourselves, all of us. And we have to continue to be bold and break new ground until that is just how it is, until we are no longer ‘firsts’ and ‘exceptions’ and ‘rare’ and ‘unique.’
“In the real world, being an ‘other’ is the norm. In the real world, the only norm is uniqueness, and our media must reflect that.”
She continued: “When black people today tell me that they don’t believe in gay marriage… the first thing that I say is ‘please don’t let anybody try to get you to vote against your own best interest by feeding you messages of hate.”
“Then I say ‘you know people used to say stuff like that about you and your love’, and if we let the government start to legislate love, who do you think is next?’.”
Washington received her award from Ellen DeGeneres.
Other GLAAD awards winners included;
- Stephen F. Kolzak Award: Roland Emmerich (presented by Channing Tatum)
- Outstanding Film – Wide Release: The Imitation Game (The Weinstein Company) [accepted by: screenwriter Graham Moore and producer Ido Ostrowsky]
- Outstanding Drama Series: How to Get Away with Murder (ABC) [accepted by: creator Peter Nowalk with stars Viola Davis, Jack Falahee, Matt McGorry, and Aja Naomi King]
- Outstanding Comedy Series: Transparent (Amazon Instant Video) [accepted by: creator Jill Soloway with stars Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass, Alexandra Billings, Kiersey Clemons, Michaela Watkins, and Alison Sudol, and co-producer Rhys Ernst]