Kerry Washington: "I Love Playing a Complicated Woman"

The actress talks to BET.com about her new ABC drama, Scandal.

Posted: 04/02/2012 09:15 AM EDT
Scandel,Washington D.C., Shonda Rhimes, Columbus Short, Kerry Washington, Marion Barry

After creating hit medical shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, Shonda Rhimes has set her latest drama in the world of Washington D.C., politics in Scandal. Kerry Washington (Ray, For Colored Girls) stars as crisis management expert Olivia Pope, a professional "fixer" inspired by a real Black woman named Judy Smith, who was behind the scenes in everything from Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry’s drug bust to the Iran Contra investigation. In the seven-episode series, which premieres April 5, Pope will deal with a White House intern sex scandal, a D.C. madam and a secretly gay Congressional Medal of Honor winner. She’s also been having a secret affair with the President (Tony Goldwyn), for whom she previously worked as communications director. 


“Judy Smith never had a complicated relationship with the President of the United States,” emphasizes Washington, “but I’m lucky that Judy is a producer on the show because she’s very hands-on and around a lot, and I worked with her on the character.” Reading and watching documentaries also helped her research, but the greatest aid was on the page.


“Shonda writes real people, people who are three-dimensional, fully realized human beings, and that is a joy for any actor, because so often we are having to create the three‑dimensionality of a character and when it’s given to you, it's such a treat. I really love playing a complicated woman. But I am always looking for the good in the character.”


Washington, who heads up an ensemble that includes Columbus Short, Henry Ian Cusick, and Guiilermo Diaz, says, “This is very much an ensemble too, but I feel like it’s my first time at the rodeo, and everything’s really new and different and exciting and I like that too as an actor to be in a new situation. I feel like every day I come to work on this show is like a master class. Our biggest hope and dream for the show is that people will have as much fun watching it as we're having making it because it's the dream job.”


Scandal premieres April 5 on ABC at 10 p.m.


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(Photo: Courtesy ABC)

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