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Kerry Washington on meditation, the importance of compliments and what she's learnt from motherhood

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What does Kerry Washington make of life's key beauty questions?

To you, what is beauty? Beauty is [composed of] things that you take in visually or aurally, or that you experience, that make you feel good.

Who do you resemble most and how does it make you feel? I probably look more like my mum but there’s definitely some of my dad thrown in there. I love that I’m a product of both of them.

When did you last feel beautiful? I try to feel beautiful all the time, but if you’re speaking of a moment then maybe yesterday, when I was rolling around in bed with my daughter [Isabelle] and husband [American football star Nnamdi Asomugha].

How is the mind connected to the body? In every possible way. Our minds are the conductors of our body.

What smell transports you and where does it transport you to? The smell of Jamaican rum cake always transports me to my mum in her kitchen at Christmas.

Which book changed your view on what is beautiful? The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s about the idea of letting go of perfectionism and being willing to take risks and make mistakes to be a creative person.

What have you misunderstood about your appearance? There have been times where I’ve felt like my body had to be a certain way in order to love it, instead of loving your body as it is, which is the way to be most comfortable in it. 

With "Scandal" co-star Katie Lowes

With "Scandal" co-star Katie Lowes

What part of beauty do you covet in others? If I covet anything it would be people who love themselves and their bodies unconditionally.

What part do others covet in you? [Laughs] You’d have to ask them! Maybe my willingness to take risks with beauty, like wearing bold colours.

Can you be a feminist and love the playground of make-up? Absolutely. I would tick both of those boxes.

What do you see when you look in a mirror? A lot of experience and my own personal journey. I feel very grateful for everything I’ve learned.

Why does society prize beauty? I think because we want to feel good, and the things that make us feel good make us feel closer to loving life.

Where is your beauty sanctuary? On a massage table! I like deep, deep tissue massages. I always say, ‘Don’t hold back. I can take much more than you think.’

Are compliments important? For me they’re important to give. Genuine compliments are a nice way to pass on positive feelings. 

Starring in 2010 film "Night Catches Us"

Starring in 2010 film "Night Catches Us"

Where does beauty come from? Is it innate or can it be learned? It’s innate, but we can all learn how to accentuate it.

What has Hollywood taught you about beauty? [Laughs] It’s taught me to resist the urge to define beauty based on other people’s judgments.

How has being a mother changed the way you see yourself? I think lending my body to that miraculous journey has taught me a lot about surrendering my own needs for someone else’s being.

Facial or massage? Definitely massage.

Who’s truly beautiful to you? My daughter! [Laughs] She’s 13 months old.

What is your beauty truth? My beauty truth is to accept the things you cannot change.

Exercise or meditate? Both! Sometimes both at the same time! I do a lot of Pilates and I feel like I get to that Zen place. 

Kerry Washington is the Neutrogena Spokesperson.

Wearing Prada at The Costume Institute Gala in New York in May

Wearing Prada at The Costume Institute Gala in New York in May

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