Kerry Washington’s “Heart Swells” For Lynn Shelton’s Emmy Nod For ‘Little Fires Everywhere’, Talks Timeliness Of Emmy-Nominated ‘American Son’

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Kerry Washington earned an Emmy nomination for her turn as conflicted mother Mia in the Hulu drama Little Fires Everywhere which was adapted from the novel of the same name by Celeste Ng. However, it was one of three projects she received Emmy love for on Tuesday morning. In addition to acting in and serving as executive producer of Little Fires Everywhere, she also starred in an served as an executive producer on Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’ which earned a nod for Outstanding Variety Special as well as Netflix’s American Sonwhich garnered a nomination for Outstanding Television Movie.

Even so, she couldn’t help but praise those who worked with her on these projects — specifically the late Lynn Shelton, who received a posthumous nomination for directing Little Fires Everywhere. 

“My heart just really swells when I think of Lynn Shelton nomination because it’s such a devastating loss to our storytelling community,” Washingon told Deadline. “She was such a tremendous talent and such a beautiful person.”

She added, “To have her beautiful work acknowledged in this way is so meaningful. I’m grateful to the Academy for my nominations but really grateful for Lynn’s nomination.”

In Little Fires Everywhere she stars opposite Reese Witherspoon and the drama tackles issues such as motherhood, class and race at a time when the country is at a pivotal moment when it comes to those topics. Washington said that its hard for her to imagine what the project would have looked like if it was released another time — but that impact remains. Overall, she was honored to be part of such a project.

“I’m really grateful to Hello Sunshine, Reese and to Lauren [Neustadter] for their vision,” she said. “It was their idea to cast Kerry Washington as Mia Warren. The role of Mia is kind of racially ambiguous in the book. They allowed for a deeper exploration of this story. Being invited to co-star with Reese and to produce alongside Hello Sunshine it was thrilling for Simpson Street and I will forever be grateful to Lauren and Reese for inviting us to the party.

Washington’s production banner Simpson Street also produced the Netflix adaptation to the stage play American Son, another timely story that follows an estranged couple as they reunite in a Florida police station to find their missing teenage son.

“To me, one of the nominations that I am most proud of is American Son — that’s definitely a project that has been resonating in our public consciousness in a different way,” she points out. “To be able to tell a story about the value of Black life and police violence at this time…it gives people that space to communicate about those issues. When we did the play, we created a discussion guide that lived in the Playbill and we were able to put that discussion guide online when it premiered on Netflix. We are really proud of the project.”

Audiences know Washington for her acting, but she finds her role as a producer just as satisfying, especially in a time when inclusive storytelling is paramount and in demand.

“I think what I love about producing is that we get to create a space where other artists can come to the table and pursue excellence for themselves,” she said. “You get to create a playground for people to bring their best selves in service of a shared vision. I love creating that space and I love telling stories about marginalized people. Maybe it’s because I am a woman and a person of color but I am drawn to stories about women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community — people who are navigating marginalization in whatever way.”

She added, “We are always looking to uplift voices that need to be heard and amplified.”

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