CANNES — Kerry Washington is leaning into the digital future of TV.
The “Scandal” star said she prefers working with streaming service Hulu versus a traditional broadcaster because they take bigger chances on their programming.
When the actress was shopping “Little Fires Everywhere,” the series based on Celeste Ng’s novel, which she is starring in and is co-producing with Reese Witherspoon, the decision to take it to Hulu was a no brainer.
“Hulu was a winner for us,” Washington said Monday at Cannes Lions. “They knew where people were going to watch me already. Hulu had data to show it would be successful.”
Unlike traditional broadcasters, the streaming service, which created award-winning series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” makes use of its data on what viewers are watching on its platform to inform its programming decisions.
Washington went on to explain that execs at Hulu pair the data research with creative choices.
“In order to really disrupt, you have to be willing to not just go according to the algorithm but also take a risk,” the actress said. “It’s something that people are hungry for … Let the data inform the risk-taking. ”
That disruption is something central to Washington’s mission as an artist and businesswoman.
“When ‘Scandal’ first came on the scene people talked about it being the first show in 40 years with a black woman at the center and people called that a risk,” she said. “But now you’re hard-pressed to turn on any network and not find a woman of color at the center of a story because we realized it is not a risk.”
Washington said her work with skincare company Neutrogena is another example of using consumer learnings to disrupt the norm.
Indeed, in her work as a brand ambassador at the company, Washington also provides insights on the product.
By listening to customer feedback, Washington said she helped develop darker shades of makeup for women of color, and even went on to launch her own makeup line at Neutrogena.
“The darkest foundation was tan,” she said, pointing out the problem. “So many of the people who make decisions for us do not look like us.”
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