Kerry Washington’s latest book, Thicker Than Water is an example of resolve and perseverance. These qualities are not gained with ease in our era of microwave moments. For years, Kerry Washington has guarded her life’s story, but by writing her memoir over the last 4 years, she found a new path of self-discovery.

After listening to episode 2 of What Now? with Trevor Noah, I walked away thinking “How many of us could be as brave as Kerry Washington?” As she talked through her identity, her experience with family, and personal growth, here were my takeaways from this episode:

Embracing Your Instincts

Kerry Washington’s revelation about her paternity coming from a donor highlights the resilience that’s needed when you’re searching for your most authentic self. Despite the groundbreaking family discovery, she reflects on the podcast, ‘I knew my whole life that there was something between my parents and I. But I didn’t know what it was.’ This secret emerged around the time she was exploring her possible participation in Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s show, ‘Finding Your Roots.’ Gates, known as ‘Skip,’ encouraged Kerry’s parents to reveal this truth. Initially hesitant, they declined, prompting Skip’s insight: ‘You should tell her.’ He added, ‘In my years of experience, it has been more painful when people get this news when a parent is gone because then you can’t process it together.’ Kerry Washington also realized that people might see their own stories in hers. This experience points to how uncovering truths can resonate with others.

The Takeaway: This underscores the value of accepting our truest sense of identity and the liberation found in exploring family history. Moreover, keeping deep secrets hidden robs others of the chance to address their emotions while you’re still alive.

Chosen Family Is Just as Strong as Biological Family

The phrase “blood is thicker than water” and the discussion about its origins can help us understand aspects of familial bonds. Kerry Washington chats through with Trevor in their conversation, “Blood may be thicker than water, but love is thicker than blood.” Trevor then goes on to affirm her understanding with his study. Trevor said his research found that it was originally derived from the phrase “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb,” implying that the ordinary meaning is the opposite of the original intention. And that Kerry’s adaptation is actually in line with his newfound understanding. As I went to look at it myself, I learned that this phrase is a subject of debate among linguists and historians. The interpretation and use can vary as it is tough to find actual substantiated evidence of which version of the phrase came first.

The Takeaway: Family bonds are not only defined by biology but also by love and choice. It’s important to recognize that both biological and chosen family relationships hold deep significance in people’s lives. The phrase is used to emphasize the idea that bonds formed through shared experiences and commitments (covenants) are indeed valuable and meaningful, but regardless of its origins, it should not decrease the importance of biological family ties.

For more, listen to this episode below.