Kerry Washington Says Netflix’s ‘American Son’ Couldn’t Have Ended ‘Any Other Way’

“The more I thought about it, the more I felt like, ‘Oh, this is how it has to be,'” actress tells TheWrap

Last Updated: November 5, 2019 @ 6:14 PM

(Warning: This post contains spoilers for Netflix’s “American Son.”)

Netflix’s adaptation of the Broadway play “American Son” launched last Friday, so by now you have had plenty of time to view the heart-wrenching film and reach its tragic ending. And if you haven’t, turn back now because we’re about to reveal star Kerry Washington’s opinion on the story’s conclusion: Kendra Ellis-Connor (Washington) and her husband Scott Connor (Steven Pasquale) learn that their half-Black, half-white, 18-year-old son, Jamal, was not actually arrested, but shot and killed by a Black police officer who had pulled over the teen and his friends after the cop witnessed the driver — not Jamal — buying drugs. The boys exited the car without the officer’s instruction to do so and he fired.

“I was shocked and at first– I mean just really shocked. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt like, ‘Oh, this is how it has to be,'” Washington told TheWrap. “Because to end it any other way, I think, would be almost disrespectful to all the people who have been in this situation where it has ended in a similar way. We don’t want to romanticize the issue. But I love that until the very end you are hoping against hope that it’s not gonna be that.”

Washington says she’s learned that the ending resonated with some playgoers who saw her perform during “American Son’s” run on Broadway due to their own experiences with racial profiling and the Black Lives Matter movement.

“There’s a lot of mothers of the movement who’ve come to see the show, moms who have been in this situation, they are so grateful that we don’t let people off the hook, that you have to walk out of the theater being willing to deal with the reality and that you don’t get to walk out of the theater pretending that everything is OK, ’cause it’s not,” she said.

But the “Scandal” alum understands your desire for the story to have ended with Jamal safe and sound in his parents’ arms, and that “you’re hoping against hope” that is how it plays out.

“That’s a great want and we should all be working for that.”

“American Son” is streaming now on Netflix.


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