Kerry Washington almost canceled her memoir after learning the truth about her father

After discovering her father wasn't her biological parent, Kerry Washington faced a difficult decision in publishing her first memoir.

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Earl and Kerry Washington during The Vagina Monologues - V Day Harlem Opening Night - Premiere and After Party at The Apollo in New York, United States. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

An instant bestseller when it was published in September 2023, Kerry Washington’s first memoir, “Thicker Than Water,” was rife with intimate revelations from the actress-producer, including disclosures about a past abortion, childhood struggles with anxiety, and an early sexual assault. However, perhaps the most groundbreaking reveal was that the “Scandal” star had only recently discovered that her father, Earl Washington, was not her biological parent. As Washington explained to moderator Erika D. Smith at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on April 20, that discovery almost compelled her to withdraw from her book deal. 

“I found out that my dad who raised me is not my biological father,”  said Washington, per People magazine. “And it was something that my parents had intended to not tell me ever, but they were kind of forced into telling me.”

Explaining that the book’s original premise was intended to center around lessons learned while portraying popular anti-heroine Olivia Pope, she added, “I felt like if I was going to write about myself, I had to write about these deeper truths … I had to include this much bigger life-changing information.”

Nevertheless, the decision to press forward with the project was not easy; as she wrestled with sharing her family secret with the world, Washington considered pulling the project altogether.

“I tried to [give] the money back and everything, but eventually I decided to try to write that book even if it was just for myself and my kids and not to share with anybody else,” she told Smith.

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Ultimately, Washington said the revelation deepened her connection to her parents, even in the midst of processing life-altering and painful new information.

“My love for him…my love and my intimacy with my parents has deepened with this exchange of information because I think when we keep secrets, particularly family secrets, it’s usually because we’re so afraid that if that truth gets revealed that we won’t be lovable anymore, that we won’t be loved, that there will be resentment and anger about whatever it is the secret was that was kept,” she shared. “And so I think once the weight of that secret got lifted, there was a lot more room for my parents and for me to be who we really are with each other.”