‘UnPrisoned’s Kerry Washington Talks Playing An Imperfect Therapist On Her Own Healing Journey & Finding Joy In Life’s Painful Moments

‘UnPrisoned’s Kerry Washington Talks Playing An Imperfect Therapist On Her Own Healing Journey & Finding Joy In Life’s Painful Moments


In another world, UnPrisoned might have been a drama series. Instead, the story is told through a half-hour comedy about a therapist and single mom whose life is turned right-side-up when her dad gets out of prison and moves in with her and her teenage son.

The series is inspired by creator Tracy McMillan’s own life. Speaking at Deadline’s Contenders TV panel on Sunday, McMillan said she wanted to “capture the tone of my actual relationship with my dad and my son, which we’re sort of lively, upbeat people who like to laugh at ourselves.

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“I really wanted to capture that there’s so much lightness in the way that we move through things. Of course, there’s all the other very intense feelings as well, but we’re not gritty people that way. So I just felt like the show should reflect real life,” she said.

Added series star Kerry Washington: “That’s what healing looks like a lot of the time. When I think about those moments that have been most traumatic in my life, when I get to the point where I can sit with loved ones and have real joyful, compassionate laughter about the things that used to cause me the most pain, that is a sign of my healing.”

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Washington stars alongside Delroy Lindo, who plays her father in the series. Both are on their own journeys of healing, which are anything but linear or simple. Washington said that’s exactly what drew her to the role.

“As an actor, I’m not drawn to playing perfect people because nobody’s perfect. It’s part of what defines us as human beings is that we’re flawed and we’re messy and we don’t get it right all the time. So for me, that’s what’s interesting about a character is kind of where they’re f*cked up,” she said. “I think that it’s a disservice in our culture when we think our therapists are perfect, because they think that is some conscious expectation of ourselves to be perfect or to try to get to be perfect. I think getting to honest is more what it’s about, and I think that’s what we’re trying to do on the show is to play honest people, real people. I love that everybody on the show is really, really imperfect, but also really trying to be the best version of themselves, or each other in these relationships.”

RELATED: The Contenders TV – Deadline’s Full Coverage

Come back Tuesday for the panel video.

Deadline Contenders Television is sponsored by Apple TV+, Coverfly, Eyepetizer, Final Draft, Los Siete Misterios, Michter’s, and Village Roadshow Entertainment. Partners include: Four Seasons Resort Maui, The American Pavilion, Julia Wong Designs and Pampring.

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