Scandal star Kerry Washington has signed an overall deal with the studio behind the ABC drama series, ABC Studios, and its cable/digital division ABC Signature Studios, for her recently launched production company Simpson Street. Under the two-year pact, Simpson Street — named after the street where Washington’s mom grew up in the Bronx — will develop broadcast, cable and digital projects exclusively for ABC Studios and ABC Signature.
As part of the deal, Washington has brought in Sharla Sumpter Bridgett as development executive/producing partner at Simpson Street.
Simpson Street’s first project, which preceded the overall deal, was the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas HBO movie Confirmation, which the company produced with ABC Signature as well as Groundswell Productions and HBO Films. The movie, in which Washington starred alongside Greg Kinnear and Wendell Pierce, premiered this month to strong reviews.
“I believe strongly in the importance of having a seat at the table, which makes starting this production company thrilling for me,” Washington said. “It’s an honor to be at a point in my career when I can help generate projects that that are exciting, necessary and truly reflect the world around us. I’m grateful to be on this journey with ABC, a network that remains unparalleled in its commitment to inclusive storytelling.”
Washington became the first black woman in nearly four decades to headline a network TV drama when Scandal premiered on ABC in 2012. It was followed by How to Get Away With Murder, toplined by Viola Davis, and other ABC series praised for their diverse casts and authentic storytelling including drama American Crime and comedies Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat.
“Kerry Washington is not only a great actress but a smart, creative producer, and we’re thrilled to have her new production company Simpson Street as part of ABC Studios,” said Patrick Moran, EVP of ABC Studios. “We’re looking forward to making great television with Kerry both in front of and behind the camera.”
Sumpter Bridgett served as partner and president of production at Brian Robbins’ Varsity Pictures and president of film at Tollin/Robbins Productions. She and Washington worked together on the 2012 DreamWorks movie A Thousand Words, in which Washington starred opposite Eddie Murphy, and Sumpter Bridgett produced alongside Robbins. Most recently, Sumpter Bridgett consulted for Nickelodeon on the launch of the network’s experimental new media division Creative Lab.
Washington’s portrayal of crisis manager Olivia Pope on the popular Shonda Rhimes drama Scandal, now in its fifth season, has earned the actress a Golden Globe, Emmy and SAG nominations as well as an NAACP Image Award.