Jen Juneau
September 23, 2015 8:40 am

We could sit here for days and gush about how Kerry Washington, the accomplished powerhouse actress perhaps most famous for her portrayal as the protagonist Olivia Pope on Scandal (whose fifth season starts tomorrow!), is insanely talented and absolutely stunning. Among her many accolades, she has ranked multiple times on People’s World’s Most Beautiful list, and was named Glamour’s Woman of the Year in 2013. She also consistently tops Best Dressed lists.

But honestly? That’s just the beginning. Washington’s wow factor goes way beyond her beauty, style, and onscreen talent. She’s known for being a huge voice supporting basic human rights and equality, feminism, body positivity, and so much more. In fact, Washington is so well-rounded and inspirational that, last year, she was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. Wow, indeed.

Here’s more about why we’re a little bit obsessed with Kerry Washington for this week’s #WCW!

She plays one of the most badass characters on television

While strong roles for women are probably more common today than they’ve ever been, there is still an issue with their existence when compared to male ones. And as lawyer and crisis manager Olivia Pope — a character who is loosely based on former Deputy Press Secretary for George H.W. Bush, Judy Smith – Washington nails the portrayal of a strong, intelligent, duty-driven woman who specializes in getting others out of messes while also dealing with her own very human vulnerability.

And we aren’t the only ones who love Washington as Pope. She has been recognized for her Scandal performances many times, including being nominated for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Emmy twice and winning Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series at the NAACP Image Awards in 2013 and 2014. And in real life? Washington is so unlike Pope. In a 2013 interview with Vanity Fair, Washington stated that, despite the praise she has gotten for her strong performances and making a seemingly effortless transition from herself to Pope, “I have to learn things to be her all the time.”

Sounds like the unmistakable mark of a truly dedicated and talented performer to us. So if you aren’t watching Scandal yet, what are you waiting for? Netflix is calling your name! You still have a whole day to watch seasons one through four before the season-five premiere tomorrow.

She fights tooth and nail for causes she believes in

Washington is a huge support of LGBT rights, having participated in numerous LGBT-inclusive projects and spoken out about the importance of doing so. She is so dedicated that earlier this year, she was presented with the Vanguard Award at the GLAAD Media Awards. In her speech, she stated, “There is so much power in storytelling, and there is enormous power in inclusive storytelling, in inclusive representations. That is why the work of GLAAD is so important. We need more LGBT representation in the media. We need more LGBT characters and more LGBT storytelling. We need more diverse LGBT representation. And by that, I mean lots of different kinds of LGBT people living all different kinds of lives. And this is big—we need more employment of LGBT people in front of and behind the camera.”

Among the numerous other causes Washington supports are V-Day, a movement that, according to its website, is “an organized response against violence toward women”; Washington serves as an activist and board member. She has also lobbied to get U.S. citizens more involved in voting, supported cancer programs for women, and spoken out many times about the importance of arts programs in schools. How does she do it all!? We think she might be immortal (or just a gorgeous queen).

She’s a dynamic force helping to create more opportunity for black female entertainers

In quite possibly the most poignant moment at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards this past Sunday, Viola Davis became the first black woman in Emmys history to take home the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her work on the hugely buzzed-about show How to Get Away with Murder. And as part of her extremely moving acceptance speech, Davis spotlighted other black women in entertainment, including Washington, for working alongside her to continue to make sure their voices are heard, they’re granted the same opportunities as anyone else, and that attainable roles exist.

“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity,” Davis said candidly in the speech. “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

Davis’ speech brought Washington (and consequently, every viewer with a heart) to tears.

She’s helping give us our latest #SquadGoals

Speaking of this year’s Emmys, in a commercial for Apple Music that aired during the show, Washington joins Taraji P. Henson and Mary J. Blige in an impromptu dance party that had all of us getting down.

With all due respect (because we obviously love the heck out of her): Taylor Swift who? Washington, Henson, and Blige are the epitome of our current #SquadGoals, and everything we aspire to get out of female companionship. And we also might be thinking about getting an Apple Music membership.

Thank you, Kerry Washington, for being such an inspiration in entertainment and in general. We can’t wait to see what you bring to this season of Scandal, or who’ll be lucky enough to work with you next.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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