In an unprecedented move for the company, OPI announced that actress Kerry Washington would serve as their next Creative Ambassador, a departure from the company’s tradition of choosing musicians. Her first collection, Washington DC, is available in 15 gorgeous, ready-for-fall shades. Here, everything Kerry had to say about her favorite polish, creating a universally-flattering lacquer collection and why she loves working in the nail space.
Kerry Washington x OPI Launch Washington DC at Ulta
On Wednesday, August 24, Kerry Washington and OPI launched their newest collaboration, the Washington DC lacquer collection, at an ULTA in sunny Los Angeles, CA. The gorgeous fall/winter 2016 collection features 15 gorgeous shades that range from skin tone nudes to rich, warm pigments to create a color spectrum accessible to every skin tone. The universally-flattering collection is only available in lacquer, retails for $10 and can be purchased at ULTA or OPI.
To launch her highly-anticipated collection, Kerry and OPI hosted a meet and greet, allowing fans to shop the lacquers and take a picture with the stunning actress. Before Kerry met with eager fans (not before taking a group selfie, that is), we had the chance to interview the Creative Ambassador to learn more about the inspiration behind the collection, her number one tip for being a boss and more. Below, the interview.
Nail It!: Why do you love working in the nail arena?
Kerry Washington: I love working on nails because I feel like it’s the crossover space where accessories meet beauty. It’s such an accessible accessory. I love that, and I love that it’s an affordable way to have a little piece of luxury in your life.
What was your favorite thing about naming the polishes in your collection?
I like that we really tried to go with names that were fun like “Yank My Doodle” (That one was all Susie’s idea, not mine!) and also names that would have real resonance and meaning to me, like “Inside the ISABELLEtway” and “We The Female.”
Is the tie to this Washington DC collection a personal or career connection?
I didn’t grow up in DC but I went to college there, and I like to say, I actually worked for the real White House before I worked for the pretend one. I worked for the Obama Administration in 2008. It was inspired by the years I loved in Foggy Bottom at GW (George Washington University) and by my time working at the real White House and the pretend one! It’s funny, this year I have Scandal and Confirmation, both based in DC. It’s a theme in my life!
Do you have a favorite color in the collection?
It’s really hard to pick! I think it’s similar to when you buy an album: You buy it initially for one or two songs but the longer you have it, there are more songs you grow to love. I feel like my favorites keep evolving just like that. I do love “Inside the ISABELLEtway” because it makes me think of my kid, and I love “We The Female” because of what it stands for, and it’s such a beautiful color. I’m super partial to “Pale to the Chief” and “Kerry Blossom.” There are just so many of them that I really love. I love “Madame President” too!
It’s almost like you can’t pick just one from your collection because they’re such a complete set.
It’s true. And they’re all so different. You can dip into this collection and find something to match whatever mood or occasion, whatever you’re trying to create, represent or embody, there’s a color for you. And also, I’m really proud that every color looks great on every skin tone. That was really important to me when we were testing it and picking colors, that every color was accessible to all skin tones.
On that note, you’ve discussed the struggle you’ve faced in the past trying to find the perfect nude for your skin tone. Tell us a little about that.
I remember shopping with my mom as a kid and being in a drugstore and going through the panty hose section and seeing the word ‘nude’ and thinking ‘That’s not what black people look like when they’re nude! I don’t know whose nude that is, but nobody in my family looks like that when they’re nude!’ [laughs]. So it came from that idea of working to make sure we were being really inclusive with the idea of ‘nude.’ I feel that we’ve created two colors on other ends of the spectrum in “Pale to the Chief” and “Inside the ISABELLEtway.” So you really can reach in and, for me especially, find a nude that’s really right for me. I thought that was important, and it’s one of the reasons one of the nudes is named after my daughter, because I feel like it’s her color after she’s been swimming all day–sun kissed and imperfect! But I also love to wear a traditional nude, which is the more pale color like in “Pale to the Chief.” It wasn’t about excluding anybody’s nude but trying to be more inclusive.
What is your favorite way to relax and pamper yourself?
I really love massage therapy–that’s my favorite splurge. Growing up, it was really about mani-pedis. I didn’t grow up with a lot of money, but my mom always had her nails done. And my mom’s not a high fashion person, she’s a retired college professor, really very classically elegant. But she always had her nails done. I think for her, it was less about looking a certain way, although obviously it made her look polished, but it was more about her time and trying to be good to herself. That little bit of massage, that little bit of elegance, that little bit of her saying ‘I’m going to do something special for me,’ as a working mom and a professional who could barely carve out time for herself. It was her saying, ‘This is my time.’
And finally, for all the women who are in leadership roles: what’s your number one tip for being a boss?
I think, honestly, listening is as important as talking. It’s so important, for me, in the areas where I find myself in a position of leadership, to be open and make sure that communication goes both ways. To be able to listen is really important.