Kerry Washington was fired from two TV pilots for not being 'hood' enough

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Kerry Washington: "There Was a Lot of Toxicity in My Life"

Hollywood is no stranger to stereotype casting. "Scandal's" Kerry Washington and "Master of None" star and executive producer Aziz Ansari have come face to face with this reality on multiple occasions throughout their careers. The actors swapped nightmare stories during a sit-down for Variety's fourth season of "Actors on Actors."

"Before 'Scandal,' I was actually cast in two other pilots. Both went to series, but I was fired and recast," Washington said. "For both, it was because they wanted me to sound more 'girlfriend,' more like 'hood,' more 'urban.'"

While Washington experienced the repercussions of not fitting a certain stereotype, she soon discovered that it wasn't exclusive to racial cliches.

"I've had friends of mine say like they're tired of 'gayface' and I was like, 'What's gayface?' They were like, 'It's the gay version of blackface, like come in and be more effeminate,"' Washington said, recounting past conversations.

"It's interesting; like every person that's not a straight, white guy has their version of this," Ansari said.

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Kerry Washington was fired from two TV pilots for not being 'hood' enough
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 21: Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 21, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the #TGIT Premiere Event hosted by Twitter at Palihouse Holloway on September 20, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 21: Actress Kerry Washington attends the 26th annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 21, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: Actress Kerry Washington is seen outside 'Good Morning America' on on September 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
Actress Kerry Washington attends the premiere of "The Details" at the Arclight in Los Angeles on Monday Oct. 29, 2012. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
Kerry Washington arrives at the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 21: (L-R) Producer Shonda Rhimes and actress Kerry Washington arrive at the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 21: Actress Kerry Washington accepts the Vanguard Award onstage during the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 21, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for GLAAD)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 21: Actress Kerry Washington speaks onstage during the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 21, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for GLAAD)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 21: (L-R) Actress Portia de Rossi, tv personality Ellen DeGeneres, actress Kerry Washington and writer-producer Shonda Rhimes attend the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 21, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for GLAAD)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 21: Actress Kerry Washington attends the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 21, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 21: Actress Kerry Washington attends the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 21, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 23: Actress Kerry Washington is seen during 'Good Morning America' taping at the ABC Times Square Studios on September 23, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)
U.S. actress Kerry Washington arrives for the German premiere of the movie "Django Unchained" in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 23: Kerry Washington is seen in Midtown on September 23, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Alo Ceballos/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 23: Actress Kerry Washington seen on the streets of Manhattan on September 23, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/GC Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0130 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actress Kerry Washington during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on September 23, 2014 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 23: Actress Kerry Washington is seen arriving at 'Good Morning America''on September 23, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: Actress Kerry Washington is seen outside 'Good Morning America' on on September 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: Lyn Paolo and Kerry Washington at The Limited Collection Inspired by Scandal Launch Event at IAC Building on September 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Nomi Ellenson/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: Actress Kerry Washington (L) and CEO at The Limited Diane Ellis attend The Limited Scandal Collection Launch Event at IAC Building on September 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The Limited Scandal Collection)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Actress Kerry Washington attends the #TGIT premiere event hosted by Twitter at Palihouse Holloway on September 20, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Ellen DeGeneres and Kerry Washington attend the #TGIT premiere event hosted by Twitter at Palihouse Holloway on September 20, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
Kerry Washington attends The Limited Collection Inspired by Scandal launch party on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
In this Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014 photo, actress Kerry Washington poses for a portrait in Los Angeles. Washington was asked to do the domestic abuse public service announcement by The Allstate Foundation, which had already put into motion an initiative called “Purple Purse,” to raise awareness of domestic-abuse money matters. Washington said the facts and figures were such eye openers, she immediately agreed to serve as the campaign's spokesperson. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the 65th Emmy Awards Nomination Celebration at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 in North Hollywood, California. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)
Kerry Washington, left, and Liev Schreiber present the award for outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or a movie on stage at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at Variety and Women in Film's pre-Emmy celebration at Gracias Madre on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington attends the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party, on Sunday, March 2, 2014, in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Kerry Washington poses in the press room with the award for outstanding actress in a drama series for "Scandal" at the 45th NAACP Image Awards at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Arnold Turner/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington attends the Disney/ABC Winter 2014 TCA All Star Reception on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at unite4: good featured at Variety's Power of Women luncheon, on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision for unite4: good/AP Images)
Actress Kerry Washington attends the "She's Making Media: Kerry Washington" panel discussion about her career at The Paley Center for Media on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the HBO Primetime Emmy's After Party at The Plaza at the Pacific Design Center on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013 in Los Angeles . (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the 65th Emmy Awards Nomination Celebration at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 in North Hollywood, California. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the BAFTA's Los Angeles TV Tea party at the SLS Hotel on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the BAFTA's Los Angeles TV Tea party at the SLS Hotel on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the Disney/ABC 2013 Summer TCA Party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, August 4, 2013 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the Disney/ABC 2013 Summer TCA Party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, August 4, 2013 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington on stage at the 2013 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall on Monday, June 3, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Brad Barket/Invision/AP)
FILE - In this June 3, 2013 file photo, actress Kerry Washington attends the 2013 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall, in New York. Washington married professional football player Nnamdi Asomugha last week in Idaho. E! was the first to report the nuptials Wednesday, July 3, and posted a copy of the couple’s marriage license online. The 36-year-old actress and 31-year-old athlete were married on June 24 in Hailey, Idaho. (Photo by Brad Barket/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - This May 16, 2013 photo shows actress Kerry Washington at the Academy of Television Art and Sciences' event in North Hollywood, Calif. Washington married professional football player Nnamdi Asomugha last week in Idaho. E! was the first to report the nuptials Wednesday, July 3, and posted a copy of the couple’s marriage license online. The 36-year-old actress and 31-year-old athlete were married on June 24 in Hailey, Idaho. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
Actress Kerry Washington attends the White House Correspondents' Dinner at the Washington Hilton on Saturday April 27, 2013 in Washington. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
FILE - This May 6, 2013 file photo shows actress Kerry Washington, left, and fashion designer Vera Wang at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala benefit, "Punk: Chaos to Couture", in New York. Wang, 63, was honored for her lifetime achievement by the Council of Fashion Designers at its star-studded awards show Monday night. She received the award from her former employer and mentor Ralph Lauren, and she received a standing ovation from her peers. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, file)
In this Sunday, April 21, 2013 photo, actress Kerry Washington poses for a portrait at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles. Washington stars in the film, "Peeples," releasing on May 10, 2013. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington presents the MTV generation award to Jamie Foxx at the MTV Movie Awards in Sony Pictures Studio Lot in Culver City, Calif., on Sunday April 14, 2013. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision for MTV/AP Images)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the Human Rights Campaign dinner at the JW Marriott L.A. Live Hotel on Saturday, March 23, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the Human Rights Campaign dinner at the JW Marriott L.A. Live Hotel on Saturday, March 23, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the 2013 Vanity Fair Oscars Viewing and After Party on Sunday, Feb. 24 2013 at the Sunset Plaza Hotel in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the 2013 Vanity Fair Oscars Viewing and After Party on Sunday, Feb. 24 2013 at the Sunset Plaza Hotel in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington poses backstage at the 24th Annual Producers Guild (PGA) Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday Jan. 26, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision for Producers Guild/AP Images)
Actress Kerry Washington attends the premiere of "The Details" at the Arclight in Los Angeles on Monday Oct. 29, 2012. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington poses backstage at the 24th Annual Producers Guild (PGA) Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday Jan. 26, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision for Producers Guild/AP Images)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday Jan. 13, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday Jan. 13, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives for the premiere of the movie "Django unchained" in Rome, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013.(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
US actress Kerry Washington uses her cell phone to take a picture of photographers during the premiere of the movie "Django unchained" Monday Jan. 7, 2013. in Paris.(AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
Actress Kerry Washington pose during a photo-call to present their movie "Django unchained" Monday Jan. 07, 2013. in Paris.(AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
U.S. actor Samuel L. Jackson, U.S. director Quentin Tarantino, U.S. actress Kerry Washington, U.S. actor Jamie Foxx and Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, from left, arrive for the German premiere of the movie "Django Unchained" in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
Actresses Diane Keaton, left, and Kerry Washington greet each other at The Hollywood Reporter's 21st Annual Women in Entertainment Power 100 breakfast presented by Lifetime on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision for The Hollywood Reporter/AP Images)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER - Actresses Lisa Kudrow, left, and Kerry Washington pose for a photo at The Hollywood Reporter's 21st Annual Women in Entertainment Power 100 breakfast presented by Lifetime on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision for The Hollywood Reporter/AP Images)
Actress Kerry Washington poses at the BAFTA Los Angeles 2012 Britannia Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
This Sept. 20, 2012 photo shows American actress Kerry Washington posing for a portrait in New York. Washington stars in the series, "Scandal," airing Thursdays at 10 p.m. EST on ABC. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP)
American actress Kerry Washington poses for a portrait on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012 in New York. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP Images)
Actress Kerry Washington onstage at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
Actress Kerry Washington the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Actress Kerry Washington speaks to delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
US actress Kerry Washington, poses for photos promoting her upcoming film,"Django Unchained" at the Summer of Sony 4 Spring Edition photo call in Cancun, Mexico, Sunday April 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)
Actress Kerry Washington poses for photos promoting her upcoming film, "Django Unchained" at the Summer of Sony 4 Spring Edition photo call in Cancun, Mexico, Sunday April 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)
Actress Kerry Washington attends "Lincoln Center Presents: An Evening With Ralph Lauren" at Alice Tully Hall on Monday, Oct. 24, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
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Ansari said he's shown up to auditions only to find he got booked because the project was trying to cast a certain look.

"A lot of other minority actors have told me, 'Oh, this so rings a bell' when you go into an audition room and you see a bunch of people that look like you and you just start feeling like, 'Oh I'm not here [for me], I'm here because I fit what looks like the person they want in here,"' Ansari said, referencing a "Master of None" episode — "Indians on TV" — where he addresses auditioning.

Ansari said as executive producer of "Master of None," he has tried to bring authenticity to the characters he features on the Netflix show, allowing them to keep their own clothing styles and be themselves instead of becoming a character on a page.

"I feel like a lot of times people don't do that and then you end up with other people's perception of what certain people are like," Ansari said.

"I definitely feel like I'm at that point where it's nice to not have to sit at home and wait to be invited to the party, but to be creating work for yourself," Washington added.

Watch the entire interview when the two-part fourth season premiere of "Variety Studio: Actors on Actors" airs June 12 and June 19 on PBS SoCal. Presented by Shopbop/East Dane, the episodes will also be available to stream on Variety.com.


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