It's a big day for the talented and gorgeous Kerry Washington—the actress is turning the big 4-0, and to celebrate, we've rounded up all the times she doled out incredible advice or shut down the haters with the utmost class and elegance.
Washington's infamous character Olivia Pope, from Shonda Rhimes's hit TV show Scandal, has an incredible way of handling any situation. "It's handled," says Pope before proving the innocence of a member of the government, rescuing a hostage being held by some sort of evil, or even helping a fellow gladiator out of a sticky situation.
Although Washington has said that while she and Pope have similar qualities, they are in fact two very different people IRL. But in many ways, our former cover girl has her own way of expertly "handling it," when it comes to racial or gender stereotypes, hitting back at photoshop jobs going too far, and advocated for those who may not have a voice to advocate for themselves.
VIDEO: Behind The Scenes at Kerry Washington's Cover Shoot
Scroll down below for some of the actress's best quotes, from commencement speeches, interviews, her InStyle cover, and even from her own Instagram account. Happy birthday to Washington, we hope it's a great one!
1. On "leaning in"
"I feel like there is a misconception of this catty competitiveness between women. That has not been my experience, particularly in Shondaland. My mother is one of seven kids ... so I have a lot of strong women in my family and I have supportive, beautiful relationships with all of them," she shared with InStyle in 2016.
2. On Photoshop
After gracing the cover of Adweek, Washington took to Instagram to express her frustration with photoshop, despite her love of the article and the mag itself: I'm no stranger to Photoshopping. It happens a lot. In a way, we have become a society of picture adjusters—who doesn't love a filter?!? And I don't always take these adjustments to task but I have had the opportunity to address the impact of my altered image in the past and I think it's a valuable conversation. Yesterday, however, I just felt weary. It felt strange to look at a picture of myself that is so different from what I look like when I look in the mirror. It's an unfortunate feeling," she wrote. "That being said. You all have been very kind and supportive. Also, as I've said, I'm very proud of the article."
3. On Inclusivity
"So many struggled so that all of us could have a voice in this great democracy and live up to the first three words of our constitution: We the people," she said in a speech at the 2012 DNC. "I love that phrase so much. Throughout our country’s history, we’ve expanded the meaning of that phrase to include more and more of us. That’s what it means to move forward."
4. On Staying Grounded
"I come from a really grounded family and I have three best friends from high school who have made it their job to remain unimpressed by everything I do," she revealed to The Guardian. "If I started being superdiva Kerry, they would be like, 'what is that?'"
5. On Female Fierceness
"I ... went to an all girls school, so I've always believed in the collective power of women. Being the one woman in the room ... was a victory for our grandmothers! If there's only one of us in the room, we're still a token; we don't actually have an empowered voice," she told InStyle. "If there's three—on any board of committee—then we're allowed to have a multiplicity of opinions."
6. On Acceptance and Inclusivity
"Having your story told as a woman, as a person of color, as a lesbian or as a trans person or as any member of any disenfranchised community is sadly often still a radical idea," Washington said in her accepted speech at the GLAAD Awards after receiving the prestigious Vanguard award. "There is so much power in storytelling, and there is enormous power in inclusive storytelling, in inclusive representations ... We must see each other, all of us, and we must see ourselves, all of us. We have to continue to be bold and break new ground until that is just how it is, until we are no longer 'first' and 'exceptions' and 'rare' and 'unique.'"
7. When She Had No Time for Haters
"I like when people express a difference of opinion on Twitter, because that's so wonderful about the country we live in. You don't have to agree with me, but if you come at me with hatred and slurs, I will block you," she told The Advocate.
8. On Playing by Her Own Rules
"I didn't get [to where I am now] because I was trying to be what somebody else wanted me to be. I got here by taking weird risks—doing a play on Broadway that cost me money to do, doing something on television that hadn't been done in almost 40 years [portraying Anita Hill on HBO's Confirmation]. I am not interested in playing by other people's rules," she revealed to InStyle. "So for now, I'm leaving myself open to the adventure."
9. On Being in Charge of Your Own Destiny
Washington gave the keynote address at George Washington University commencement's back in 2013, leaving graduates with this piece of advice: "When you leave here today and commence the next stage of your life, you can follow someone else's script, try to make choices that will make other people happy, avoid discomfort, do what is expected, and copy the status quo. Or you can look at all that you have accomplished today and use it as fuel to venture forth and write your own story. If you do, amazing things will take shape." Definitely an Olivia Pope line.
10. On Confidence and Being Intellectual
"I was really lucky because I went to an all-girl school and that single sex education really helped me because I really learned to bond with women and to not compete with or compare myself as much because we were all allowed to be ourselves and be unique and kind of have our unique strengths. But I I always felt like my value was much more in my intellect than it was in my appearance, and so that’s what I spent time cultivating," she said in an interview for the Paley Center for Media. And some of that I get from my mother, some of that comes from the schools that I went to, and some of that comes from probably insecurity. This feeling that my value is what’s on the inside, because what’s on the outside can’t really compete with other people, so I’ll place my focus there. Which I think has been a blessing for me. Because I’m not stupid."