Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Jan. 12 marked the 20th anniversary of Save the Last Dance and Kerry Washington shared a throwback picture to commemorate the special occasion.
“Playing Chenille changed my life,” wrote the Emmy award winner. “I read that script and I felt like I KNEW her. At the time, I also knew the narrative that was being served in culture about who Black teen moms are. And I knew that if done right, this was an opportunity to transform some stereotyped thinking and make this young woman REAL. And human. And deserving of love and attention.”
“I loooooved being a part of this film This cast. This crew,” she continued. “So many “slammin” memories!”
The 43-year-old Little Fires Everywhere actress starred alongside Sean Patrick Thomas (Derek) and Julia Stiles (Sara). Washington portrayed Derek’s younger sister Chenille and quickly became best friends with Sara — a white midwestern ballet dancer who moved to Chicago after her mom’s tragic passing. With the help from Chenille’s slammin’ fashion expertise, Derek’s private dance lessons, and a few nights at STEPPS, they help Sara land an audition at Julliard.
Thomas also celebrated the film’s anniversary by sharing a photo of him and Stiles from the set of the movie.
“Save The Last Dance premiered 20 years ago and we shocked the world, including myself,” he wrote. “Never imaged the film would be as beloved as it is.”
In an interview obtained by E! News, the New York native shared what it was like to play her beloved character.
“I play Chenille, this really funny, loving, energetic, honest, wonderful young woman — who’s completely stylish,” a then 23-year-old Washington said. “And really a good friend. I don’t do all of the technical stuff that Julia Stiles does but I do get my groove on.”
The Hustlers actress praised working alongside Washington stating that “she’s such an amazing person” and that “she’s very spiritual, so when you’re around her you feel *ahhh* everything is good. She’s just really smart and has a lot of integrity.”
“She’s just a lot of fun and just really polished and on fire,” Thomas added of his former co-star.
During an interview with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show in 2017, the Scandal actress recalled her experience filming her “first big film.”
“I got a job in a movie called Save the Last Dance, and it was my first big film,” she said. “It did not pay me a lot of money, so after the movie came out, I went back to substitute teaching for a while.”
“And then I had to make a rule that I wouldn’t work in high schools. I could only do elementary schools because kids were cutting class to see Chenille teach French,” she said of her character. “So it was bad. I would go into a school and I would see all these kids outside the window trying to see that girl from Save the Last Dance.