Unity through Diversity

Mixis Living Trailblazers

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FREDI WASHINGTON was born December 23, 1903 in Savannah GA. Her career started as a dancer and escalated to include acting in numerous plays and films in the 1920’s to the 1930’s. She became an avid worker for equal rights for blacks in the theatre and film industries and founded the Negro Actors Guild of America. After appearing in several plays, her “light skin” brought attention to curiosity seekers who wanted to see her complexion. Although her color resulted in Washington getting a number of roles as tragic women who were trapped between white and black, it ultimately limited her artistic advancement.

Her career did take on a defining point when she took on the role of a light skinned black woman passing for white. Her greatest performance captured the inner torment of a young woman who abandons her upbringing in order to pass as white. Doomed to settle for a shortened career as an actress due to limitations on blacks imposed by society and the acting industry, Fredi Washington never got the chance to fully develop her craft. However, she made a memorable impact in an assortment of films and plays, and her efforts on behalf of blacks paved the way for African American performers to capitalize on opportunities that had been denied her.