Isaiah Washington Fired from Grey's

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June 7, 2007 - ( - Not too long ago, I had an electronic conversation with NAACP Image Award winning actor, Isaiah Washington.  Short of asking him why he made the comment about his homosexual co-star that ultimately cost him his job, we talked about a lot of things.

Before you read any further, I want to stop take a moment to offer my support of this brilliant actor.  While his comments may not have been the most appropriate, I think it's important to note that the Black community views homosexuality a lot differently than Hollywood.

Much like the comments by Kanye West following the Katrina Hurricane crisis, Black Americans support their stars. Many African Americans can't seem to understand why there is a social stigma to opposing something that they feel is morally and religiously wrong.

I'm not saying that Isaiah made these comments for that reasons or that what he said was great, but if his comments stemmed from his religious beliefs, many people in the Black community would find it understandable.

When actors like Darrin DeWitt Henson (Soul Food, The Salon) have to go on to stamp out rumors of being gay, it's time that this issue be examined more closely.

Admittedly, Black Press Magazine doesn't generally cover this topic. It's not really related to the overall mission. But, over time BPM has interviewed author J.L. King, gay rapper Jenro and Anna J, author of a book that includes a heavy Black lesbian theme.When these interviews happen there's usually a media perspective to them, not a political one. While our company doesn't take sides, the Black community and readership might.

Hollywood would be smart to take notice of Black viewers' religious preferences.

To some the idea of Black women kissing each other on a rap video on BET isn't shocking, but the truth is the vast majority of African Americans don't support the practice from a religious standpoint. So when actress Pam Grier was introduced at this year's NABOB Communications Awards dinner and the announcer mentioned her work on "The L Word," a scandalous series on cable about lesbians, few applauded. It was simply the wrong audience. The crowd wanted to remember her for licking racial stereotypes, not other women on the set of the L Word.

So many things are being shoved down the throats of Black readers. From homosexuality to immigration to lack of religious choice, the collective Black Press has an obligation to be there for its reader.  Sometimes that means doing things that are difficult or publishing something that may raise eyebrows.

To fire an actor like Isaiah Washington from an otherwise racially insensitive show like "Grey's Anatomy" that airs on a network like CBS that allowed Don Imus to exist for years is simply put: WRONG. This is not a gay thing or a straight thing, a Black thing or a white thing. Firing Isaiah Washington is a right or wrong thing.

Below is my electronic conversation with Isaiah Washington. I am not ashamed to say that his comments, body of work and life up until the infamous comments were made caused a great deal of pride in me. I will continue to support him as long as those standards are maintained.

DC:  What is your favorite Black-owned newspaper or magazine?

"The Crisis Magazine [published by the NAACP.]"

Where were you when Ed Bradley died?

"I was at my desk in my office at the Gondobay Manga Foundation, the non-profit organization I founded. I recall the CNN homepage popping up with the news, and I just sat there in utter shock. I had always hoped  to meet him one day. It was a great loss for all of us."

  What is your favorite Gerald Levert song?


  From L.A. to Louisiana you're being celebrated for your body of work  that includes classics like Love Jones and films with some of the  country's best actors, what does this particular nomination for the NAACP Image Award truly mean to you?

"I am truly humbled and honored by the recognition. It is amazing to be  acknowledged by my own community for doing something that is worthy. It is very important to me."

  What was your journey to stardom really like?

"Challenging but rewarding too. I did things my own way. I worked hard,  extremely hard. But admittedly, I earned a "reputation for being difficult." I sometimes challenged directors and producers concepts for Black characters in scripts AFTER I booked the gig. I would often  rewrite and urge them to allow me to bring more dimensions to a  one-dimensional character, which was not always embraced. Shockingly, one director even suggested that I should try "dumbing it down a little  if I wanted to make it in this town."  As a result, over time I learned  there are no small parts, only small actors."

What are five things that we DON'T know about Isaiah Washington?

"I love soccer; I love playing golf; I love the Olympics, especially,  Track & Field Events (I was a medalist in the U.S. Air Force); Alice  Coltrane was my guru for ten years; and I am extremely passionate about  helping those in need. Most recently, through my foundation, I helped build a school for 200 kids in the Njala Kendema Village in Sierra  Leone. It is extremely
gratifying to translate your passion into good works."

  You've worked with everyone from Aaliyah to Terrence Howard. Who was your most intimidating co-star?

"Jet Li."

  Each of your roles has been so diverse and unyielding, how have you  managed to prevent typecasting?

"Sacrifice. I viewed my career as a marathon, not a sprint. I tried to do  projects that intrigued me, or pushed me beyond my limits, and tried not  to do projects simply for the money."

  Recently young aspiring actors have been using you as a role model, what's it like to be called the next Denzel Washington? And what  advice would you give them to fill your shoes?

"Don't let anyone ever purchase your integrity. Once that is sold, you're dead. You may end up being very rich, but your soul will die a slow death, your work will suffer and then you will suffer and die or quit.  Stay focused. Stay positive."

  Some headlines currently read, "Losing Isaiah," but what have you found out about yourself and how will this impact your acting?

"I am still growing as a husband, a father, an actor, a businessman, and  as a concerned citizen of the world. My emotions can no longer play a negative part in my life. Too many people, in too many places are  relying on me to succeed in all of these areas, and I simply refuse to  let them all down. I am focused on putting my ship back on course after this storm. I have learned some hard lessons. I do understand the world  is watching me now, and I don't intend on letting anyone down, including Isaiah myself."

Copyright 2007 D. Livers/Historical Black Press
Foundation. All Rights Reserved. To read more articles
like this visit

*The opinions in this story are those of the writer and not necessarily the views of Black Star News.

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