Kerry Washington's Best Movies and TV Shows, Ranked by Metacritic

As 'Scandal' turns 10, Metacritic looks back on Kerry Washington's highest-rated movies and TV shows, ranked by Metascore
by Cynthia Paez Bowman — 

Kerry Washington

Michael Tran / Getty Images

Kerry Washington is an actor, director, and producer. Perhaps best known as Olivia Pope in Scandal, Washington has a busy career both in front and behind the camera. Although she's been nominated for multiple awards for her performances in Scandal, Ray, Django Unchained, and other roles, one of her biggest wins was as an executive producer of Live in Front of a Studio Audience: 'All in the Family' and 'Good Times,' for which she won an Emmy.

Since 2016, Washington has often pulled double duty on projects, as a producer and an actor. This began with the original television movie Confirmation that year, but continued through the latter years of Scandal, as well as other TV movies Man of the House and American Son and the limited series adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere, in addition to documentary The Fight. She launched her own production company, Simpson Street, and has additional projects in the works through the company's overall deal with ABC Studios.

She also has four directorial credits thus far, beginning in 2018 with an episode of Scandal. The most recent is the upcoming TV series Reasonable Doubt, which she also executive produces, but in between those experiences, she helmed two episodes of Insecure and one episode of SMILF.

Born in the Bronx, Washington was interested in the arts from an early age, and she even ended up taking dance lessons from Jennifer Lopez before the latter New Yorker left the East Coast for Los Angeles.

Here, Metacritic highlights the best movies and TV shows Washington has acted in, ranked by Metascore.

The Simpsons

Metascore: 87
Best for: Fans of long-running animation
Where to watch:

, Google Play, , iTunes,
Seasons: 33 (so far)

The eponymous family has been making television audiences laugh with their misadventures thanks to the clever combination of personalities within the family, and among the townspeople of Springfield. While many stories revolve on growing up for the youngest members of the family, as the years have gone on the show has satirized pop culture and current events on an increasing basis. It is also known for its annual "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween episodes that dive into the spooky and the scary, also still usually with a pop culture twist. Washington joined the show in 2022, voicing Ms. Peyton, a new teacher at Springfield Elementary.

"What began in 1987 (as animated filler between sketches on The Tracey Ullman Show) has become one of the medium's most dependable entertainments, a cartoon that transcended cartoonishness a long time ago." — Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly


Metascore: 83
Best for: NY crime and police drama fans
Where to watch: 

Seasons: 12

The Emmy Award-winning, long-running drama that began in 1993 follows police officers in New York City as they investigate a different crime in each episode. The gritty setting is matched by their own rough attitudes, as they are often willing to get their own hands dirty to take down the criminals. Dennis Franz stars as the main detective Andy Sipowitz, who is partnered with Jimmy Smits' Bobby Simone for most of the series. Washington guest stars as Maya Young in the eight season episode "Franco, My Dear, I Don't Give a Damn" in 2001. The episode revolves on a female officer who was shot on duty. Her husband, a police captain, puts the blame on his wife's partner and decides to take revenge for her death. 

"Take away the nude lovemaking scene, the revolutionary level of potent cussing, the curiosity-stirring controversies surrounding Steven Bochco's premeditated shock elements, and NYPD Blue remains one helluva cop show." — Lon Grahnke, Chicago Sun-Times

Django Unchained

Metascore: 81
Best for: Viewers who appreciate a spaghetti Western meets plantation romance, against all odds
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunesNetflix
Runtime: 165 minutes

Washington is part of an all-star cast including Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Don JohnsonJamie Foxx, and Samuel L. Jackson in Quentin Tarantino's 2012 Oscar-winning movie that blends themes of slavery, German bounty hunters, and the Wild West. She's Broomhilda, a slave and wife to Foxx's titular character who joins forces with a German bounty hunter (played by Waltz) to find and rescue Broomhilda from the evil owner (played by DiCaprio) both were sold to.

"Django Unchained doesn't merely hit its marks; it blows them to bloody chunks. It's manna for mayhem mavens." — David Edelstein, Vulture

Our Song

Metascore: 77
Best for: Documentary-style drama fans in search of an emotional story about inner-city kids
Where to watch: 

Runtime: 95 minutes

Washington plays teenager Lanisha, one of three best friends in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in this 2000 coming-of-age drama film. Although these girls are members of the famous local marching band and carry themselves with pride, the poverty they face at home makes it hard to have much hope for a future. The movie follows their lives in the last weeks of summer as they inevitably grow up to face the world of challenges that awaits.

"The three stars communicate the fears and dreams and frustrations of teenage girls with subtlety, sensitivity and dignity." — Sean Axmaker, Seattle-Post Intelligencer

The Last King of Scotland

Metascore: 74
Best for: Historical fiction lovers and viewers in search of real-life-inspired dramas
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunes
Runtime: 123 minutes

This eye-opening and Oscar-winning film from 2006 is based on the real story of a Scottish doctor (played here by James McAvoy) personally chosen to work with Ugandan dictator Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker). The film follows their complex relationship as the doctor grows to feel responsibility for bearing witness to so much brutality without doing anything to stop it, while also feeling trapped in this world. Washington has a small role as Idi's third (and youngest) wife.

"The movie is an extraordinary personal adventure that views everything through the eyes of its hero as it carries him from one apocalyptic situation to another." — William Arnold, Seattle-Post Intelligencer


Metascore: 73
Best for: Music aficionados and lovers of biographical dramas
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunes
Runtime: 152 minutes

The story of musician Ray Charles gets the biopic treatment in this 2004 Oscar-winning film. Foxx plays the titular musician, while Washington plays his wife, Della Bea Robinson, a performance for which she won Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture at the NAACP Image Awards. The film chronicles his from childhood, including losing his sight at 9 years old, through his rise as a musician, his relationship with Della Bea, and his personal demons, including addiction and affairs.

"If there were an Oscar for ensemble acting, Ray would win in a stroll." — Richard Corliss, Time


Metascore: 72
Best for: Fans of music, historical dramas, and biographies
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunes
Runtime: 110 minutes

This 2016 TV movie features Washington as Anita Hill, the former work colleague of then-Judge Clarence Thomas (played here by Wendell Pierce), who testified during hearings following his Supreme Court nomination that she was repeatedly sexually harassed by the judge. Washington, who also had her first executive producer credit on this film, earned multiple awards nominations for her performance, including at the Primetime Emmys, Critics Choice Awards, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. The movie itself was also nominated for an Emmy.

"While it runs a bit long and can get bogged down with minor details that detract from the overall plot, because it touches on so many important issues...Confirmation makes for a fascinating look at an important moment from a turbulent decade." — Terry Terrones, The Gazette

Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear's 'All in the Family' and 'The Jeffersons'

Metascore: 71
Best for: Lovers of sitcoms
Where to watch: 

Runtime: 91 minutes

The first live special to see modern actors take on classic Norman Lear sitcom roles features an episode of All in the Family starring Woody Harrelson as Archie Bunker and Marisa Tomei as Edith Bunker and an episode of The Jeffersons starring Foxx as George Jefferson and Wanda Sykes as Louise Jefferson. Washington plays Helen Willis in the latter, a role originally played by Roxie Roker. Helen was The Jeffersons' neighbor and married to a white man, which was, at the time, groundbreaking. The special took home the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special (Live) in 2019.

"ABC's live presentation reminds us that The Jeffersons was the more interesting show... Oscar winner Jamie Foxx turns out to be very funny mimicking Sherman Hemsley's nervy-bantam performance as George Jefferson." — Kyle Smith, National Review

Boston Legal

Metascore: 69
Best for: When you're in search of an intense and sometimes humorous legal/courtroom drama and enjoy guest cameos
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunes
Seasons: 5

A spin-off of David E. Kelley's legal drama The Practice, Boston Legal follows Alan Shore (James Spader) to a new law office where he butts heads (but is still close friends with) with Denny Crane (William Shatner). Drama is drawn from Alan's drive to win no matter what kind of questionable things he has to do and Denny's declining health, in addition to the individual cases of the week they try, which range from civil to criminal court cases. Washington guest stars as Chelina Hall, a woman who works with death row inmates, in four episodes in the first season ("Til We Meat Again," "Tortured Souls," "Let Sales Ring," "Death Be Not Proud" and again at the end of the second season in the episode titled "Race Ipsa."

"Even if you weren't in the practice of watching ABC's The Practice, you might find its spin-off, Boston Legal, habit-forming." — Sarah Rodman, Boston Herald

Law & Order

Metascore: 69
Best for: Drama fans, and those who like police and legal drama rolled into one
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunes
Seasons: 21 (so far)

The first in Dick Wolf's New York-set criminal justice franchise, Law & Order follows the police officers that patrol New York City streets to solve crimes and the prosecuting attorneys who work to put criminals behind bars. The series originally ran from 1990 to 2010, delivering 20 consecutive seasons, before being revived in 2022 with a 21st season. Washington guest-stars in the 12th season episode titled "Three Dawg Night" that is centered around a nightclub shooting. Her character, Allie Lawrence, is a young music manager representing a rapper becomes the suspect in the shooting. 

"You will find that, except in the manner the series was always changing, swapping new characters in and out over its many years, the taste remains the same." — Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times

Little Fires Everywhere

Metascore: 69
Best for: Fans of the novel of the same title and lovers of family drama and social issues
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunes
Seasons: 1

Little Fires Everywhere is the screen adaptation of the 2017 novel of the same title, written by Celeste Ng. Washington plays Mia Warren, a single mom who moves in next door to the Richardsons, led by Reese Witherspoon and Joshua Jackson, a seemingly perfect family. But of course they have secrets and drama like any other family, much of which begins to seep out the more Mia and her daughter (played by Lexi Underwood) intertwine with their lives. Washington also serves as executive producer on the series, which means she received two Emmy nominations for her work: one for her performance as Mia and one for Outstanding Limited Series.

"[A] successful meeting of style and substance, combining great acting, superb costuming and production design with sharp scripts that expand on the acclaimed source material. ... The series has the rare ability to make the mundane simply mesmerizing." — Kelly Lawler, USA Today

UPDATED: This story was updated on 4/23/22 to include The Simpsons.