Kerry Washington was 14 years old when the Anita Hill case played out on TV, and for the first time in her young memory she watched as history divided her household: Her father upset at seeing a successful black man “stripped of his dignity by a panel of white men,” her mother viewing a woman being “re-victimized” in court.

At Deadline’s The Contenders Emmys event today, Washington, the Scandal star who portrays Hill in HBO’s upcoming Confirmation (premiering April 16), recalled the atmosphere within her academic household as the family was riveted and torn by Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court nomination hearings. Those hearings are the subject of the movie, which co-stars Wendell Pierce as Thomas.

Washington said the Thomas-Hill battle marked the first time she realized that she herself would forever struggle with the “intersectionality” of being both black and female in America — although she joked that she would not have used that big word as a 14-year-old girl.

Kerry Washington ConfirmationBut Washington said Confirmation has significant meaning for today’s world too, and hopes the film provides an education on “the machine of politics and how it chews everybody up.”

She added, to great applause, “It should remind the people who work for us why they work for us, and they have to do their jobs.”

Washington shared today’s Confirmation panel with director Rick Famuyiwa and writer/executive producer Susannah Grant.