Kerry Washington refused to play the ‘white girl’s best friend’ after movie with Meg Ryan and here’s why

Kerry Washington
Photo: Kerry Washington/Instagram

Kerry Washington has vowed never to play the “white girl’s best friend” after her role alongside Meg Ryan in 2004’s ‘Against the Ropes’. In her new memoir, Thicker Than Water, the actress details the reason behind her decision to steer clear of the stereotypical trope in cinema.

In the boxing drama, Washinton portrayed Renee, the receptionist and best friend of Meg Ryan’s character, Jackie Allen, an influential and highly accomplished female boxing manager. The film featured Ryan and Omar Epps in leading roles.

Why Washington stopped playing the ‘white girl’s best friend’

“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 wrote in her book, as per Entertainment Weekly. The 46-year-old insisted that playing the role in ‘Against The Ropes’ would be her final portrayal of the ‘white girl’s best friend’ character as she believed that she had reached the pinnacle in playing such roles. 

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. 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,” she wrote, in her book.


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Washington has played such roles twice before

The ‘Scandal’ star has played the stereotypical role twice before. First, in 2001’s ‘Save the Last Dance,’ where she portrayed Julia Stiles’ best friend. Later, she was cast as the best friend of Caroline Dhaverna’s character in the scrapped pilot for the Fox dramedy series ‘Wonderfalls,’ a role that was eventually assumed by Tracie Thoms.

Washington speaks about dealing with abortion in her 20s

In a recent candid interview with People, the ‘Django Unchained’ actress opened up about her new book, in which she bravely shares her personal experiences, including childhood sexual abuse and her battle with an eating disorder in college. The pages of the book also recount the star’s decision to undergo an abortion in her 20s, along with her harrowing experiences with childhood panic attacks, among other revelations.

“I’ve been a very private person when it comes to the public, so I never thought that I would sit down and write a soup-to-nuts memoir about my life,” Washington told People. “I can’t believe I wrote it.”