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Kerry Washington: 'Imperfections Are Actually the Gift'

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Jason Merritt/Getty

We’ve made no secret of our major style and beauty crush on Kerry Washington over the past couple years. She rarely makes a misstep on the red carpet, and her hair and makeup are perpetually on point. So when she sat for an interview with’s Jodie Patterson, the editor said what we all have been thinking: “You’re perfection!”

But Washington demurred the compliment, saying, “I think you’re wrong! I think it looks that way. But the reality is we all have nerves and moments of insecurity … But If I said to myself that I’m only going to show up, or speak or be visible when I’m perfect, I would never get out of bed. I [show up] to be of service and to be used for something greater. It’s about knowing what I am in this moment is what I need to be, and going for it. The ‘imperfections’ are actually the gift.”

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She also shares that her beauty and style prowess didn’t come naturally to her; despite having an “really beautiful” mom, she wasn’t raised to focus on the outside. “I came into beauty and fashion much later in life — like after college and when I had to walk red carpets,” she said. “I became a student of fashion and beauty. I wanted to soak in those relationships to understand and be informed. Even now, when I go to fashion shows and look at the clothing, hair and makeup, it’s like going to an opening at the Met or a Broadway show. It’s a moment to take in artistry.”

And she has one really good piece of advice for those who are afraid to play up their strongest features. “It took me forever to allow my makeup artist to do bright red lips! Sometimes it takes someone saying to you, ‘Do you know how beautiful your lips are? You should try wearing red lipstick,’” she says. “You can learn how to embrace your own unique beauty, celebrate your unique gifts and then have confidence around them.”

Can this woman write a manual for us to follow? She may not want to hear it, but she’s pretty darn close to perfection.

Check out her whole interview on, and tell us: Do you embrace your unique features? Do you strive for perfection?

–Alex Apatoff