Kerry Washington Says Working With Meg Ryan on 2004’s ‘Against the Ropes’ Changed Her Career Trajectory

AGAINST THE ROPES, Meg Ryan, Kerry Washington, 2004, (c) Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection
© Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection
Meg Ryan and Kerry Washington in 2004's AGAINST THE ROPES

Scandal star Kerry Washington has been making all sorts of headlines lately with the release of her new memoir, Thicker Than Water, which was released September 24. In it, she writes about how playing Renee, Meg Ryan‘s coworker and friend in the 2004 film Against the Ropes, changed the way she would later choose roles.

“This was becoming a new niche for me, the white girl’s best friend,” she wrote. “It’s not that I wanted to be the star of the film; I wanted my characters to be in a story of their own. I didn’t want to be an accessory to a white woman’s journey.”

AGAINST THE ROPES, Kerry Washington, Omar Epps, 2004, (c) Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

© Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Washington with Omar Epps in Against the Ropes


Before this film, Washington had also played Julia Stiles’ best friend in Save the Last Dance, and she had a similar role in the pilot Wonderfalls. Against the Ropes was the last time she took the role of “the white girl’s best friend.”

Washington, known for keeping her private life fairly private, was encouraged to write a memoir by screenwriter/director/showrunner Shonda Rhimes, but didn’t feel comfortable taking her advice for nearly ten years, until she had finished playing professional crisis manager Olivia Pope on the uber-popular series Scandal.

SCANDAL, Kerry Washington, (Season 1), 2012-. photo: Danny Feld / © ABC / Courtesy: Everett Collection

© ABC/Courtesy Everett Collection

Washington as Olivia Pope in the hit series Scandal


“I had for my entire life felt an intense pressure to succeed, to get everything unendingly right. And of course, one of the things that I learned while playing Olivia Pope is that she did, too,” Washington writes of her character.

She also details her struggles with growing up in the Bronx and not quite fitting in with her family, as well as the shocking news that her father was not her biological father, which she found out in 2018 when she was planning to do the PBS Series Finding Your Roots. “Any attempt I made to sit down and write about my life and not include this new information, it just felt impossible,” she said. “I tried to give the publisher their money back.”

Luckily, she did not give up on this project, and it is available now on Amazon (and bookstores, for those who prefer to shop locally) for fans who are interested in reading more about her journey to stardom.