When the words “so Abby’s kind of a bitch” are uttered on television by the white male who is portraying the President of the United States one would normally expect a laugh, or the moment to be swept under the table. Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope however, delivers a blistering attack on the usage of the word ‘bitch’ in relation to women: “The words used to describe women! If she was a man you’d say she was ‘formidable’ or ‘bold’ or ‘right.'”
This is one example of how Washington’s portrayal of Olivia Pope makes her an inspiring woman – she doesn’t just provide a positive female role model in the character, but she also actively breaks down the double standards which women have to deal with when taking on assertive roles, ones which have traditionally been male-dominated. Olivia is demanding, forceful and fascinating, a woman who will do whatever needs to be done to fix her clients’ problems.
Off screen, Washington is just as impressive as her on screen character. She is a vocal advocate of gay rights and has been awarded the GLAAD Vanguard award, as well as campaigning and acting as an ambassador for domestic abuse charities. She is an actress who is actively politically involved, and uses her voice to make a difference. She is an inspirational and aspirational woman of colour who shows the power that a woman’s voice can have.