A little more than a decade following his controversial exit from the hit ABC medical drama, Grey's Anatomy, actor Isaiah Washington — best known as Dr. Preston Burke for two seasons — tells PopCulture.com he is "very excited" for the show's lengthy continuation. Washington, who apologized shortly after in a public statement on Larry King Live per a report from PEOPLE, was let go from the series after using a homophobic slur during an on-set disagreement with co-star, Patrick Dempsey. "I said several bad words," he recalled on Larry King Live, further noting he did not mean the "F-word" as an anti-gay slur: "I am not homophobic — in no way, shape or form."
Thirteen years after the fallout and unravelings of the incident, Washington is glad to see the show has continued the way it has, despite the "toxic" environment that "agents" and "managers" created for those on the show. "That's why I'm very excited about seeing the show go on because I know [Shonda Rhimes] wants to get to 20 seasons [...] we were treated so poorly as a medical show," Washington explained to PopCulture after being asked about the show's longevity through 16 seasons. The 56-year-old actor goes on to defend Rhimes and her hard work over the years, further supporting the fight for women's equality while admitting how the Shondaland creator was "undermined as a black woman and as a woman so horribly at ABC."
He goes on to share how Rhimes got "less money than another guy," who received a multi-million deal with Netflix, yet she received only a third of that. "Undermined, and where is she now? [...] He got $300 million with Netflix; she gets $100 million from Netflix. So, this whole inequality for women, and the thing that's most disturbing to me about Hollywood and that whole situation? Everyone wants to focus on what I said and what I didn't say, whatever the context. But no one wants to continue to talk about that this was the first human being, the first woman and the first African-American woman to win a Golden Globe for a one-hour show."
While Washington has relayed strong feelings toward the subject, there's no doubt he has moved on from the past, while expressing his excitement and focus on the present and future both personally and professionally. "I'm hugely blessed. I always knew that. I understood why they thought they had to do what they needed to do, and I've moved on from that. I wrote a book about it, talked about it on my podcast, but you know, I realize the agenda at the time..." he said.
Washington stated his situation "turned into a political" one, admitting that in the midst of what became a very public debate, he, along with his other cast members at the time, didn't even realize the platform they had as a show. "We didn't understand that we were the biggest show in the country other than American Idol. We worked so long, 18 hours, we worked so hard, we didn't know we had a platform and the power we had until the Golden Globes, and then we got all this attention," Washington said. "We really were naive, and I thought we were just a bunch of crazy artists just doing what we do, popping off at the mouth, writing, whatever, arguing and we didn't know that the agents and the managers were creating a toxic situation outside our wonderful little bubble."
Now that the Texas-born star has moved on from his Grey's Anatomy days, he's thrilled about his new show Isaiah Washington: Kitchen Talk, which premiered Monday on FOX Nation. The show follows Washington as he travels across the California coastline to bond with various celebrities over a delicious meal and a glass of wine. "This has been my vision for, I will say four years now," he said. "I always said that I would like to get this show done because I remember [traveling] around the world, even when I was in Turkey — couldn't speak the same language — we were always able to communicate and feel the love through the food."