Kerry Washington Surprises Fan & Sends An Important Message


Update:
You can watch a video of Kerry Washington FaceTiming with a fan about Neutrogena's plans to expand its shade selection above. "I wanted to personally deliver the message of our expansion and how proud I am of it, and it really meant a lot to me in particular when people asked about why Neutrogena would bring me on if there wasn’t foundation for women of color," Washington tells fan Ebony in the video. "I’ve been working really hard on expanding our foundations."

Read more about Washington's role in the expansion and what it means to her below.

This story was originally published on February 11, 2016, at 4:30 p.m.
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Photo: Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock.
Just a couple of hours before a crew of beauty editors sat down to discuss the new beauty happenings at Neutrogena, Kerry Washington, the brand's ambassador and creative consultant, surprise-FaceTimed seven unsuspecting beauty fans. No, these women didn’t win a contest of some kind; they were just a few of the many women who wrote to Neutrogena to express disappointment that the brand didn’t offer foundation shades that matched their skin tones. Some even wondered how the brand could hire Washington when there wasn't a shade option for her, either. And they weren't just making an assumption about that point — there actually wasn't.

"When I first started out at Neutrogena, there was not a foundation for me, and there was actually some pushback about that online," Washington told us. "I very purposefully did not address it [then], because I knew that I was about to engage in this labor of love."

That labor of love being Neutrogena's new shade expansion. Just last month, the brand launched three new shades for its Nourishing Long Wear Liquid Makeup range and four new additions to the SkinClearing Liquid Makeup and Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup lines. When you look at the selection of these darker additions compared with the number of options for those with fairer skin, it still doesn't seem all that significant. But baby steps, people.

Over the past two years, the Scandal star has been working with the brand to specifically address the needs of women of color — the same women she FaceTimed with just yesterday morning. "I got to say to them, 'We hear you, we really heard you,'" Washington said. "We are a consumer-driven company and we really want to address [your] needs."

When you feel like you don't matter in [the beauty] space, it's really frustrating.

Kerry Washington

This face-to-face interaction (even if it was through a computer screen), was not only important to Washington as the brand's ambassador and consultant, but also as a woman of color. "I was talking with somebody...who was saying that she's very, very fair with a pink undertone and that she has a hard time finding makeup that's right for her," she said. "She was saying it's hard not to take it personally — it feels like a rejection of some sort. And I really understood that. I think that when you feel like you don't matter in this space, it's frustrating. It's really frustrating."

She went on to touch on an ideal she holds very dear to her heart: making sure every individual feels like they're a part of this conversation. This is something she strives for— and will continue to strive for — with Neutrogena. "I think inclusivity, as I'm learning in my life, it turns out, is one of my core values. It's what I believe in the most: that everybody has a right to a seat at the table." Here, here. We call dibs on the seat next to Washington.
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