Kerry Washington's parents were terrified when she declared she wanted to pursue an acting career.

The American actress has had huge success in the industry, with starring roles in Django Unchained, The Fantastic Four and Ray.

She's also made her mark on the small screen, and her political drama Scandal helped bag Kerry multiple Emmy Award nominations and a Golden Globe nod too.

"Terrified!" Kerry laughed when British magazine Stylist asked if her parents were fearful about her career choice. "My mother tried to talk me into doing a million other things.

"She used to say, 'Don’t be an actor. Be a lawyer for actors.' I think every parent fears their child will be a starving artist – and with good reason because so many people wind up on that path. I’m very grateful they allowed me to pursue my dreams."

As well as being a successful actress 37-year-old Kerry has also amassed a legion of famous fans.

Oprah Winfrey and Claire Danes are big supporters, while Girls creator-and-star Lena Dunham made no secret of the fact she ended up stalking Kerry at the 2012 Emmys.

"It’s fun to hear that," Kerry laughed. "There is a real circle of mutual respect. There are more opportunities for women and part of that is people like Lena and Oprah creating those opportunities and having a community that believes our successes can help rather than take away from each other.

"That’s the truth; the more successful you are, the more you’re able to inspire and create work for others. It’s great when we live in that belief system. It works."