Before She Fixed Things on ‘Scandal,’ Kerry Washington Hit the Dance Floor with Julia Stiles

Kerry Washington is killing it these days. But you already knew that. She’s become a cultural icon as Scandal’s Olivia Pope, and consequently one of the most visible actresses in Hollywood. But where was she before she was a card-carrying member of Shondaland?

For the most part, she was “that girl in that movie.” You couldn’t really place her. But now, her small roles in movies you’ve seen but never recognized her in mean so much more. In fact, now she has the clout to retroactively add star power to any movie. Namely, these five movies you forgot Kerry Washington was in. (Note: we’re skipping the ones no one you know has probably ever heard of.)

Little Man (2006)

[Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures]

Surely the project Kerry Washington is most proud, Little Man tells the story of a tiny convict named Calvin (played by Marlon Wayans) who’s adopted by an incredibly aloof couple, Darryl and Vanessa (Shawn Wayans and Washington), desperate to have a baby, only to realize that Calvin is a grown man and simply using the couple to hide one of the world’s largest diamonds he stole on his last heist. If the film doesn’t make any sense to you, just try to forget about it. We’re sure anyone who ever worked on the project is.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005)

[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]

Before she worked with Hollywood heavyweights Quentin Tarantino, Leo DiCaprio, and Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained, Washington rubbed elbows the industry’s hottest power couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in the movie that brought them together. Here, she plays secret agent sidekick Jasmine to Jolie’s Jane, who’s been tasked to take down her husband. While Washington doesn’t kick that much ass in this, she does spew out fancy coordinates and other assassin jargon that’s enough to make her character seem like she can annihilate you with a tap of a pencil.

Will Washington ever stop playing Olivia Pope? The Scandal star weighs in.

Fantastic Four (2005) / Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

[Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox]

In both Fantastic Four installments, Washington played the comic character Alicia Masters, a sensitive, caring, and compassionate blind sculptor who carve out images of real people through touch and memory alone. Which is convenient when your love interest is The Thing, a dude who’s basically a monstrous rock formation with a heart of gold. Love is blind, guys. Love is blind.

She Hate Me (2004)

[Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics]

To say critics hated Spike Lee’s She Hate Me would be an understatement. It currently sits at 19 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and it’s easy to see why. Let’s just take a look at the plot: an unemployable businessman (Anthony Mackie) finds himself making ends meet in the lucrative business of impregnating lesbian couples, an idea given to him by his former girlfriend (Washington) who’s trying to start a family with her girlfriend. No, it’s not a comedy, nor a romance, nor a…hell, we don’t know what this is.

Save the Last Dance (2001)

[Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures]

Out of all the movies on this list, this is definitely the one you can use as an icebreaker at party. Everyone around you will be equally impressed, stoked, and happy to revel in the nostalgia you just brought into their lives. Washington is almost unrecognizable here in her second-ever feature film role as Derek’s (Sean Patrick Thomas) sister and Sara’s (Julia Stiles) BFF with baby daddy issues, Chenille.

[Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures]

Tara Aquino is an entertainment writer based out of L.A. She likes people, places, and things.