When it comes to promoting women’s rights and breaking that glass ceiling, actor Kerry Washington is no wallflower. In fact, the star has been recognised by the National Women’s History Museum after becoming the first African-American woman to headline a network TV drama since 1974 (for her role in Scandal). Washington is an ardent supporter of fellow females trying to make a difference, most recently backing the women-owned jewelry startup Aurate.
The actor and philanthropist collaborated with the jewelry brand to design and develop the Lioness collection which will see Aurate donate 20% of proceeds to Supermajority, an organization committed to building a movement of women across all races, ages and backgrounds, working for women’s equity.
“Kerry’s voice transcends borders,” says Moroccan Bouchra Ezzahraoui, co-founder behind New York-based jewelry line Aurate. “As an Arab woman, Kerry’s activism around female empowerment immediately resonated with me.” She adds that the two have been friends for years, and that Washington has also served as an advisor and an inspiration.
The Lioness collection marks Washington’s official welcome as an investor at Aurate. “Kerry is an incredible person to consult with when it comes to brand and strategic positioning,” explains Ezzahraoui. “She’s bringing not only her financial expertise to the table but an incredible voice to our board and a creative mind to bounce ideas off. We are very intentional about who we partner with and for us this was a truly organic relationship. In our eyes, Kerry is the definition of style and substance and that is a pillar of our brand.”
The Lioness collection, which is intended to be an “homage to the power within and between women,” is inspired by Sekhmet, a goddess of Egyptian mythology, whose name translates to “she who is powerful.”
One of the hero pieces from the collection is the Lioness necklace featuring two gold chains bonded together as one. From the chains, a pendant featuring a lioness head is flanked by amulets, notably a solar disk. Sekhmet was considered a protector of the pharaohs, helping to carry them into the afterlife. Ezzahraoui elaborates, “A celebration of the lioness’s aspirational sisterhood, Sekhmet is both a warrior and a goddess of healing and a beautiful image to celebrate the power of women – the lionesses in our lives. When working together, we can achieve amazing things; like lionesses, building, nurturing while being fierce at the same time.”
As for the campaign shoot, Ezzahraoui explains it aligns with the mood of the collection by “touching on strong poses,” meanwhile the styling is neutral, offering the focus on the gold jewelry. “Most importantly, it was shot in a setting that spoke to the lioness gold tones, earth tones, and desert tones,” smiles Ezzahraoui, offering another wink to her fertile homeland.