Kerry Washington felt like an outsider during her school years.
The 42-year-old actress attended Spence School, an all-girls private school in New York City, during her youth, and Washington found the experience to be an “absolute culture shock.”
“We were rich in the Bronx because we had like two cars and a dishwasher and a microwave,” Washington recalled while speaking to the Goop Podcast.
“Then I got to Spence and it was like helipads on peoples roofs in the Hampton’s. I really didn’t know how to comprehend it.”
She found attending the school to be a very isolating experience.
“I remember in that moment thinking, ‘I cannot present any of these feelings I’m having right now, because it will identify me as other.’ These are my new friends at Spence and this is their norm,” she said.
“If I ask a bunch of questions or act like this is weird, I will identify myself as being outside their circle. So I have to act like this is normal and figure out what the f— is going on.”
She resisted the temptation to discuss her fears with her parents.
And ultimately, she admits the experience has proven to be beneficial to her as an actress.
“I didn’t become an actor because of that, but I did start to understand, oh, there is a level of identity that is about performance,” she said.
“I started to look at my life almost anthropologically. Like, when I get on the subway in the morning, there is a particular way that people walk and talk and dress and eat and breathe even.
“Forty-five minutes later, there is a totally different way that people walk and talk and dress and breathe … I just started understanding all of these cultural indicators and what code-switching looked like and felt like.”