Actor wonders about Obama’s Africa strategy

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Texas native Isaiah Washington entered the Air Force before turning to acting.  A graduate of Washington, D.C.’s Howard University, Isaiah went from the nation’s capital to the New York City stage, landing roles in the theatrical productions of “Police Boys,” “Distant Fires,” “Generations of the Dead,” “Spell 7” and “Song of the Sad Young Man,” according to the website tribute.ca. Washington’s early television career included various soap opera gigs, as well as guest starring roles in television hits like “NYPD Blue,” “Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order,” “New York Undercover” and “Ally McBeal.”  Washington’s feature film debut was in  Spike Lee’s “Crooklyn,” and he went on to star in three more Spike Lee movies, “Clockers,” “Girl 6” and “Get on the Bus.” Washington also starred in the films, “True Crime,”  “Romeo Must Die” and  “Exit Wounds.” Back on television, Washington achieved TV stardom when he landed the role of Dr. Preston Burke in the hit medical series “Grey’s Anatomy,” for which he won an Image Award, according to tribute.ca. Washington’s most recent film is the Sundance hit, “Blue Caprice,” a thriller about the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks. Washington is a founder of CityKids Repertory, a performance group dedicated to teaching young people to be leaders through programs focusing on youth-to-youth communications, books, events, focus groups and other innovative youth communications.

Robin Bronk: Have you met President Obama?

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Isaiah Washington: "When I met him, I was lobbying for the Republic of Sierra Leone in 2006, he was a Senator then and he came off the Senate Floor and chatted with me for about 10 minutes when he was busy fighting for the 25-year extension on the Voting Rights Act of 1965. When I came to Washington, D.C. again in 2007, I was allowed to visit his Senate Office and check my emails while he was running for his first term as the President of the United States; I talk about it in my book A MAN FROM ANOTHER LAND."

RB: If you had another five minutes in the Oval Office with POTUS what would you ask him?

IW: My question to him would be: “What would be your strategies and economic development plans for Africa after you’re out of office?”

RB: Why after? Why not now?

IW: Because he has his hands full with international issues right now. In terms of what I know about the presidency, the current state of affairs globally, and the job at hand, I would want to know what strategies, economic developments, inspirations, or ideas he could probably give me insight on regarding Africa once he’s out of the White House.

RB: If you were going to enlighten him on an issue, what would it be? 

IW: It would be about getting a handle on the rampant drug overdose of heroin and culture of violence right there in Chicago. 

RB: What piece of advice would you give him?

IW: Always stay kind to kids and to hug his kids no matter what.

 RB: If you were going to send the president to your favorite place in the United States, where would it be and why?

IW: The National Forrest of Redwoods or any forest of Redwoods. I’d tell him — just take a walk amongst the Redwoods and remind yourself how insignificant we are, and that these Redwoods have been here much longer than human beings. Those trees are very clear in their purpose, and they’re a reminder that we have to be very steadfast and clear in our purpose, especially when we’re put in a position of leadership.

RB: If you were going to recommend a piece of music to him, what would it be and why?

IW:  I’m a huge fan of Jeff Beal right now. He does all of the music for “House of Cards.” It’s something about the vibrations, and his music is somewhere stuck between contemporary, and classical in a very soothing but haunting way. Yet, it still feels like it is present of our times. I just like the soundtrack to the Netflix original series, “House of Cards.”

RB: If you were going to ask him to screen “Blue Caprice” in the White House, why should he screen it?

IW: So we can have a holistic and authentic conversation about what it looks like to be a bad father, fatherless, and what bad leadership looks like because you’re fatherless, because you’re protégé is fatherless. We really have to have a holistic conversation about family structure, because it’s been degenerating for far too long. 

RB:  Would you ever consider a political career?

IW:  NO!

Robin Bronk is CEO of The Creative Coalition — the leading national, nonprofit, nonpartisan public advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Bronk is a frequent speaker on the role of the entertainment industry in public advocacy campaigns and represents The Creative Coalition and its legislative agenda before members of Congress and the White House. She produced the feature film “Poliwood,” airing on Showtime, and edited the recently published book Art & Soul. Bronk pens this weekly column with assistance from Risa Kotek.