Telling empowering stories, South Africans want to hear

Friday, 27 October 2023 19:50

Kerry Washington opens up in new memoir 'Thicker Than Water'.

By Jacob Mawela.

Photo Credit: MarkJFranklin.

Picture yourself now an independent adult and your parents suddenly summoning you to their home whilst returning from work and once there, commencing to matter-of-factly inform you that one of them is not your biological parent – learning this truth (or long-hidden secret) at the advanced age of 41?! In the case of this featured memoir’s protagonist: that she is the progeny of an unknown sperm donor! That the loving father she has known all her life from her birthday until the moment of the ‘shocking’ revelation – is not her dad!

"Forty-three years ago, we were having a really hard time having a child, so we used a surrogate. We used sperm from another man," the protagonist's mother revealed!

Subsequent to the revelation, said protagonist's efforts to trace the unknown donor amounted to futility, with her, in her quest to ascertain that the dad she'd known all along wasn’t really her dad, cajoling him to undergo a DNA test which would prove once-and-for-all that indeed he isn't her biological father or that, maybe, just maybe – a mistake might have been committed. The test's result was announced by a doctor thus: "So it says here that there is a 0.000001 percent chance that Earl Washington is your biological father."

The above gut-wrenching discovery is contained, along with others (such as undergoing an abortion whilst in her 20s and being sexually molested by a boy at sleepovers whilst in her childhood, et cetera) in the recently released tome, Thicker than Water – A Memoir, chronicling the life of American Hollywood actress, Kerry Washington.

Recognized by local television audiences as the lead character of the thriller series, The Fixer (titled thus in its South African iteration, and Scandal in its American version) Washington's memoir is an impeccably written recollection infused with wisdom, maturity, consummation in one's calling, love and dedication to family and an abiding love for water, amongst a plethora of ingredients!

Water, whether in a swimming pool, a lake or in the ocean, has featured as an abiding element for the woman nicknamed 'Fish' by the lifeguards of her Bronx, New York, neighbourhood swimming pool for her natural prowess whilst in her pre-teen years. The cover of her book features a painted oil linen image depicting her submerged underwater with a tete-a-tete reflection of herself. In one of its pages, she recalls a cameraman in scuba gear not keeping up with her burst of pace underwater whilst filming a scene for an episode of Scandal. A picture on the tome's back jacket shows her tiny self smiling at the camera alongside her dad and mom, Valerie, in the swimming complex of Jamie Towers, in the Bronx.

Central as water may be in her life, the actress of films such as Lakeview Terrace (in which she features opposite Samuel L. Jackson), Quinton Tarantino's Django Unchained (in which she stars alongside Jamie Foxx) and Spike Lee's She Hate Me, etc. also discloses the responsibility of family such as when her mom, an educationist, underwent treatment for cancer at a hospital during the COVID-19 period, and she had to wipe pee and poop from her and replace bedpans, etc.

Also named Marisa, meaning, "of the sea" (although her mom told her the name means, "princess of the sea"), in the penultimate chapter, Washington revisits an encounter with a trio of blue whales whilst kayaking pending a vacation in Maui. Involving a female, a calf and a protective male of the mammoth mammals, a tour guide explained to her: "It's not the father. That male is the whale who wants to mate with the mother next season. He accompanies the mother and her child on their journey to prove himself worthy." To Washington, that display of nature was tantamount to the role her surrogate father (who she swam together with numerous times throughout her life) Earl exists for in hers and her mom, Valerie's lives!
Thicker than Water:

A Memoir, is published by Little Brown and distributed in South Africa by Jonathan Ball Publishers and available at leading bookstores nationwide. The trade paperback retails for R415.