Kerry Washington Stopped Playing the ‘White Girl’s Best Friend’ After 2004 Meg Ryan Movie: I Don’t Want to Be an ‘Accessory to a White Woman’s Journey’

Kerry Washington explains in her new memoir, “Thicker Than Water,” that she actively rejected playing the “white girl’s best friend” after starring in “Against the Ropes,” the 2004 boxing drama headlined by Meg Ryan and Omar Epps. The film starred Ryan as Jackie Kallen, the first woman to achieve success as a boxing manager. Washington played Jackie’s best friend, a receptionist named Renee.

“In it, I played [Meg Ryan’s] coworker and confidante – this was becoming a new niche for me, the white girl’s best friend,” Washington writes (via Entertainment Weekly).

More from Variety

As Washington remembers, “Against the Ropes” was her third project in a row where she was playing the best friend to the white female lead. First came 2001’s “Save the Last Dance,” in which was Julia Stiles’ BFF, then she shot the scrapped pilot for the 2004 Fox dramedy series “Wonderfalls,” where she was the best friend of Caroline Dhavernas’ main character. Tracie Thoms ultimately took over the role. Washington ensured that “Against the Ropes” would be the last time, mainly because she was such a Meg Ryan fan that she hit her personal peak as the “white girl’s best friend.”

“‘When Harry Met Sally’ is, to this day, one of my top three movies of all time, so once I’d played Meg Ryan’s best friend, playing the role against anyone else would have been a lateral move,” Washington writes, adding: “It’s not that I wanted to be the star of the film; I wanted my characters to be in a story of their own. I didn’t want to be an accessory to a white woman’s journey.”

Washington’s career continued with supporting roles, but ones she felt were far more fleshed out than just playing support to her white female co-star. These roles included playing Della Bea Robinson opposite Jamie Foxx in “Ray” and Kay Amin opposite Forest Whitaker in “The Last King of Scotland.” Both men went on to win the Oscar for best actor.

Washington’s memoir, “Thicker Than Water,” is now available for purchase.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.