Kerry Washington is excited to play the villain in ‘The Prom’

Ariana DeBose and Kerry Washington in The Prom on Netflix (Photo by Melissa Gordon/Netflix)

When you hear the word “bigot,” the last person you think of is television and Broadway darling Kerry Washington, who has committed herself to projects with a social justice bent like the recent Hulu mini-series Little Fires Everywhere and the Broadway play-turned-Netflix adaptation American Son

But that’s exactly how Washington would describe her character in Netflix’s The Prom, another activist-minded movie that adapts the musical about a small-town lesbian who can’t bring her girlfriend to prom and the Broadway stars that fight for her. Washington plays Mrs. Green, the PTA president who cancels the prom.

“It's really fun to be the bigot in this one,” Washington said during a virtual press conference. Director Ryan Murphy asked Washington to be a part of the project, as she says, because he was looking for someone “ to play her who can really fill out the humanity of the character.”

“As somebody who does not identify with conservative values, I thought this was a really good opportunity to step into the shoes of a different person with a different belief system and try to have some empathy and compassion,” Washington said.

She went on to talk about the importance of art sparking social change. 

“For a lot of people, where they sit in the dark and have transformative thoughts is in movie theaters or in their living room watching TV,” Washington said. “That's the stillness that I think so many of us engage in, is when we sit and we watch these stories that aren't just the ones that play in our mind, but they're the stories that inform us of who we are as a society and a culture.”

The Prom premieres on Netflix on December 11 and is in select movie theatres now. 

Photo credit: Ariana DeBose and Kerry Washington in The Prom on Netflix (Photo by Melissa Gordon/Netflix)