Kerry Washington stresses importance of voting, talks Election Day anxiety

The 'American Son' actress is advocating for a large voter turnout on Election Day through her special, 'Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy'

The 2020 election may be around the corner, but Kerry Washington isn’t slowing down on her advocacy for voting efforts.

The Scandal alum, 43, is pushing for large voter turnout on Election Day through her special, Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy, which aired on CBS on Oct. 29 and is available now on most social media and streaming platforms.

Read More: Kerry Washington says Black people are ‘seduced into voting conservative’

“There’s this notion that democracy is somehow a Democratic issue. Democrats aren’t saying that they want more Democrats to be able to vote, Democrats are saying that they want everyone to be able to vote. I believe that ideology,” Washington explained exclusively to theGrio. “I believe that no matter who you are, no matter what your beliefs are, if you’re an American citizen, you have a right to vote.”

She continued, “Part of the problem is that every four years, we expect one candidate to be the answer to all of our problems. This special is not centered on candidates, the special is centered on voters. It’s centered on you. It’s centered on everyday Americans who have the power to be their own hero, in their neighborhood, in their family, in their community, in their county, in their state. That’s what we want people to realize that showing up to vote isn’t about having passion for a candidate, it’s about having passion about your own power and ability to create change.”

Washington is aware of her growing platform (she has over 6 million followers on Instagram and 5 million followers on Twitter) and wants to use her influence to make sure all Americans utilize their voting rights. The American Son actress campaigned for the Biden-Harris ticket in October with her husband, Nnamdi Asomugha, and worked with R&B songstress Alicia Keys and Superstore actress America Ferrera to host the CBS voting special.

“I was really proud to be able to bring my production company, Simpson Street, to the table. We’re really focused on telling stories where we center everyone…that’s so much of what the special was about,” she said about the voting program, which was a nonpartisan civic engagement event. “It’s about sort of reminding voters that they are the center and the hero of their own story—and particularly in this election, right? It’s not about wanting somebody else to fix your problems, it’s about realizing you have the ability—voting up and down the ballot on local races and national races—to create real change.”

Washington added, “You know, working with these women, these are my sisters. America Ferrera and Alicia Keys, I’ve known them forever. I know their commitment to making sure that voices are heard across the board. That people feel seen and heard and that they matter. So it just made a lot of sense for us to sort of extend our friendship into a partnership on this amazing production.”

Kerry Washington is pictured in an Instagram selfie with husband Nnamdi Asomugha and Biden-Harris campaign volunteers in North Carolina on Oct. 18, 2020. (Credit: @kerrywashington/Instagram)

Washington passionately explained to theGrio that while mail-in voting may no longer be an option due to the close proximity of the election, voters should still come out on Tuesday, Nov. 3, to make their voices heard.

“At this point, the voting has to be done in person, either dropping off your ballot at a dropbox or voting in person. Vote early if you can, early voting is so vital right now,” she stressed. “There are a lot of states where you can register on same day. So people might be feeling really inspired all of a sudden and be like, ‘Well, I’m too late, right? I’ve missed my window.’ I just want to say you haven’t. You absolutely haven’t. There are lots and lots of states where you can vote same day, including [battleground states like] Wisconsin and Michigan.”

Speaking about her commitment to activism and social justice, Washington compared the work to her acting and producing career, explaining that she uses both platforms to help people “feel seen and heard.”

Kerry Washington is pictured in an Instagram selfie. (Credit: @kerrywashington/Instagram)

“I want people to feel like they matter,” Washington said. “I want people to make room for other people’s voices and know that we can each express our souls and humanity, and in doing so be looking out for each other. …There’s a real consistency for me and my desire to want to uplift every person’s humanity and to have everybody feel like they matter, and that their voice is important. It’s what I gravitate toward in my work as a producer and it’s what I gravitate towards in my work as an activist.”

And for those voters struggling with election anxiety, Washington says she understands. In her attempt to control her worries about the election, Washington has been “engaging with my anxiety in healthy ways.”

Read More: Kerry Washington joins leaders to launch $10 million racial justice initiative

“I try to redirect it. You know, kind of the redirecting those feelings towards action and that doesn’t totally do the job,” she said. “I also have to breathe deeply and get enough sleep and eat well and meditate. I do those things imperfectly, to varying degrees on any given day. I think it’s a real balance for me of trying to be part of the solution through action, but also have some of that action be about calming my nervous system and self-care, which was really challenging these days. But I think it’s still worth the effort.”

Fans can watch Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy on iHeartMedia radio stations and app, Apple Music, Apple TV App, Amazon Music, Twitch, NowThis, YouTube, Twitter, TIDAL and Facebook.

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