How 'Scandal' Star Kerry Washington can Change the Face of Magazines

If you don’t know who the ‘gladiators in suits’ are, then your cable package must not include ABC. ‘Scandal’ is one of the hottest shows on television right now! When the ‘gladiators in suits’ are on, Twitter explodes with over 2,200 tweets per minute; which include the hashtags #Scandal and #AskScandal. ‘Django Unchained’ was one of the most highly controversial and highly profitable movies of 2012. This season’s red carpet events have been set ablaze repeatedly when this best dressed star is featured. What do these three things have in common? Kerry Washington. With her soaring popularity as the first African American woman to lead an ensemble cast on television in 38 years, Kerry is definitely one of Hollywood’s ‘It’ girls. However, even with all her of recent success, we haven’t seen her land many major women’s magazine covers.

So if Kerry Washington is Hollywood’s new ‘It’ girl, why don’t they know it?

No one could have predicted that ‘Scandal’ would be a massive hit in its second season based on its first season numbers. Season one was almost cancelled due to poor ratings. However, ABC took a chance and renewed the show after its debut season. That chance has paid off, with Scandal viewership up almost 20% overall this season. In the all important 18-49 demographic, ‘Scandal’ delivers big. Last season the show averaged 2.0 in viewers ages 18-49. Since 2013, the numbers have improved to a 2.7 average for the 18-49 demographic.

Smart storylines, flawed but likeable characters, and scandalous political bombshells all work to entice viewers to the show week after week. Another huge appeal of the show is its African American lead character ‘Olivia Pope,’ played by Kerry Washington. She’s already covered Ebony and Essence; both magazines have a primarily African American audience. Women’s Health magazine had the pleasure of featuring Kerry on their December 2012 issue. Always perfectly polished on the red carpet and poised in front of the camera, Washington is a natural choice to lead a hit show and to grace the cover of leading magazines like Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire.

The 2013 Academy Awards are on the horizon, airing February 24, and while her portrayal of Broomhilda in ‘Django Unchained’ isn’t nominated for any awards, thanks to her latest movie and the success of television show ‘Scandal,’ Washington’s career is white-hot nonetheless. Magazine editors looking to shake up their usual rotation of cover girls should look no further than than Kerry.

Despite her popularity as ‘Olivia Pope,’ audiences might not see Ms. Washington on the covers of mainstream magazines any time soon. Frankly, there is a unwritten notion that African American cover girls don’t sell magazines. Outside of the seemingly superhuman icons like Beyonce, Oprah, Rihanna and Halle Berry, African American women are noticeably absent from the covers of many high profile magazines like InStyle, Elle and Vanity Fair.

Actresses like Reese Witherspoon, Heidi Klum and Mila Kunis routinely pose for the front pages of trendy leading women’s magazines again and again. However, their presence doesn’t automatically translate into sales for the publications. In fact, in 2011 Reese Witherspoon had one of the worst selling magazine covers of the year, along with actress Michelle Williams and pop-sensation Fergie.

It’s no secret that a fresh face in Hollywood is rare, but last year saw the rise of Hollywood newcomer Jennifer Lawrence. In 2012, she was featured on the cover of magazines such as Elle, Vogue and Glamour. Admittedly, Hunger Games was one of the top grossing movies of all time, raking in $155 million in its opening weekend alone. Certainly, Lawrence’s talent was a contributing factor to the film’s success.

Every few years the doors of Hollywood crack open, pushing through one or two slim framed actresses and propelling them to ‘elite’ status. Lawrence has slipped through (deservingly).

With her brilliant portrayal of political clean up woman ‘Olivia Pope’ on Scandal and her extensive body of quality films (which include ‘Ray’, ‘The Last King of Scotland,’ and ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’), isn’t Kerry is due to slip in before the door once again closes?

Can there be more than one ‘It’ girl in Hollywood? And can that ‘It’ girl be African American, or Asian, or East Indian, or any race other than Caucasian? Instead of simply asking myself these questions, Popular Critic decided to go directly to the source. We sent an inquiry to the following magazines, asking why they have not featured Kerry Washington on the cover: Vogue, Vanity Fair, Elle, Glamour and Harper’s Bazaar. So far, the only magazine editor to responded was Glamour. Below is the response:

Hi Monique,

Thank you for writing to GLAMOUR with your suggestion. We love hearing from readers like you; I have forwarded your letter to our senior editors, including Editor-In-Chief Cindi Leive.
We appreciate your interest in the magazine. Please feel free to keep us posted with your response to upcoming issues and articles.

Michelle Meyers
Reader Services

It’s not just about race. It’s about what the people want to see. With a solid increase in viewership and a firestorm of tweets during the airing of ‘Scandal,’ it may be safe to assume that fans of the show would be not only delighted to see Kerry on the cover of a leading women’s magazine, but they’d be intrigued enough to buy that magazine. After all, it comes down not only to interest, but sales.

If you’re like us and believe that Kerry Washington should be featured on these magazines, then share this story on Twitter and Facebook. Also, you can join the conversation tonight when ‘Scandal’ airs at #CoverKerry on Twitter.


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