Kerry Washington is finally getting the magazine covers many have long said she deserves. The Scandal actress had Elle all to herself in June and shared the cover of The Hollywood Reporter with other television actresses, but perhaps her bigest coup is August's Vanity Fair cover, released today. Now the quest is on to make it sell, as a successful venture for Vanity Fair—and hopefully a change in some of the magazine industry's most frustrating newsstand attitudes.
Washington would seem like an ideal candidate for a magazine cover. She's on a hit television show. She's beautiful. She's got interesting things to say. But, of course, she is black.
Magazines have a terrible habit of being reluctant to put black women on their covers. This often becomes noticeable when a publication like VF or The Hollywood Reporter does a group cover, but it's long been a problem. Way back in 2002, David Carr wrote a story for the New York Times about Halle Berry's "improbable feat" as a Cosmopolitan cover girl. Carr wrote that "in many broad-circulation magazines, the unspoken but routinely observed practice of not using nonwhite cover subjects -- for fear they will depress newsstand sales -- remains largely in effect." In Erik Maza's March article for Women's Wear Daily about magazine cover sales, Rihanna was mentioned as a worst seller for Vogue. (A Latina woman, Jennifer Lopez, however, sold well for InStyle.)