PARADE features Kerry Washington, star of Scandal, ABC’s Beltway melodrama about a crisis fixer who solves powerful people’s problems while at the same time managing an on-again, off-again love affair with the (married) leader of the free world. Scandal’s wacky scenarios are so over the top, it’s easy to forget what’s groundbreaking about the show: the 36-year-old actress who plays the lead just happens to be the first African-American woman to carry a network drama in nearly four decades.
“I didn’t realize…when I was auditioning for the role,” Washington tells PARADE. “I knew that in my lifetime I’d never seen it. But it didn’t compute to me that I’d be making history. I just fell in love with the character.” Also notable: the fact that President Fitzgerald “Fitz” Grant and Washington’s character Olivia Pope are an interracial couple is barely acknowledged. Some more highlights from the interview:
On the dysfunctional Washington D.C. portrayed in the series:
“The story lines…push what’s possible. But there are stories on the news that change what we think is possible all the time. You hear about a governor who’s disappeared into the Appalachian trail because he has a South American lover, or somebody else’s behavior on Twitter. I mean, if you want to look at presidents having affairs—there are about four I can think of off the top of my head.”
On her work on the controversial film Django Unchained:
“I feel like I barely survived Django emotionally. The violence. Hearing the N-word every day. It cost me a lot psychologically, but it was worth it to tell that story.”
On her recent work schedule:
“I had two days between finishing Django and starting up again on Scandal. It was nuts. That first day back I had to walk across the Rose Garden in heels. I thought, ‘I don’t remember how to walk like Olivia Pope anymore. ‘I’d been barefoot in the woods for months playing a slave.”
On whether, as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, she is aware of President Obama’s view of the show:
“I haven’t wanted to ask the president his opinion of the show. But I have lots of friends in the administration who love it. We make D.C. look sexy and exciting.”
On her role in the new Tyler Perry-produced romantic comedy Peeples, and knowing when to lighten up:
“I’m a goofy person. That’s how I ended up in Peeples. Tyler Perry saw me joking around…and said, ‘I had no idea you were this silly.”
For more on Kerry Washington, including her surprising choice of career if she hadn’t found acting, and to find out who was the last woman of color to star in a network TV drama, go to Parade.com HERE.