Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Ketel One
Over the weekend, Scandal star Kerry Washington was presented with the GLAAD Media Vanguard Award at the organization's annual award show in Los Angeles. Presented to people within the entertainment industry who have made significant impacts on the promotion of LGBT rights, Washington joins previous recipients such as Jennifer Lopez, Kathy Griffin, Josh Hutcherson, and Liza Minnelli in the category. It was a night of celebration, recognizing outstanding media representations of LGBT people and issues, and Washington's incredibly powerful acceptance speech proved just how worthy she was of her honor.
"Being an ally means a great deal to me," she began. "And so I'm going say some stuff. And I might be preaching to the choir, but I'm going to say it not just for us, but because on Monday morning, people are going to click a link to see what that woman from Scandal said at that award show. And so I think stuff needs to be said"
Washington went on to highlight the importance of storytelling and representation, the power it has to bring about a more just and empathetic society. She noted that so many people fall into an "other" category, that so many are denied rights that every person should enjoy, such as equality in terms of marriage, voting, and employability. But, she lamented, those minority groups lack cohesion.
"Now you would think that those kept from our full rights of citizenship would band together and fight the good fight. But history tells us that no, often we don't. Women, poor people, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, gay men, bisexuals, trans people, intersex people. We have been pitted against each other and made to feel there are limited seats at the table for those of us who fall into the category of 'other.'"
She called upon everyone to recognize each other's rights and struggles, and not to give into to the hateful rhetoric we're fed.
"We can't say that we believe in each other's fundamental humanity and then turn a blind eye to the reality of each other's existence, and the truth of each others hearts. We must be allies, and we must be allies in this business, because 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."
She finished by calling for a change within media, to be more inclusive of minorities and more thoughtful in the ways that they are represented.
"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."
Watch the full speech below: