Drama Queen

Drama Queen

Scandal star Kerry Washington talks pregnancy and politics with Suzy Maloy

Scandal [ The Fixer in South Africa] is a huge success. Did you think that you would come this far when you first started the show?

No way. To tell you the truth, I never think anybody will watch my stuff. You never really know what will work and what won’t.

How Do you approach playing Olivia Pope, your character in Scandal? Do you have a specific method?

I work very physically, so how I approach a role often has a lot to do with the physicality of that character. So the challenge was my physique changing dramatically twice now (with pregnancy) in the life of the show, and Olivia’s body not changing. I was trying to figure out how to still hold on to her posture and emotion while mine was different every day. That has been a real exercise for me.

That must have been interesting, since Olivia has never been pregnant.

Exactly. It has taught me how to grow my toolbox to lean into other areas as a means of grounding her, other than just her way of walking the walk. The walk has become more of a waddle, at least for a while.

Do you pay attention to ratings at all?

I don’t, and haven’t for – I’d say – seven or eight years, because that’s not something I can control. Ratings are not – as far as I’m concerned – real or true any more, so that’s not a thing that I’ve paid attention to.

How do you achieve success as an actor?

You just give it your best shot and let go of the idea that you can somehow influence the outcome. You can’t. I learned that a long time ago.

Do you think TV is catching up to cinema? We have seen some pretty groundbreaking series over the last couple of years…

I don’t know. It will take some time to see what the landscape will look like.

You were outspoken about and involved in the Obama administration. How do you feel about America’s new president, Donald Trump?

I’m hopeful that this is an opportunity to become aware. It’s a very important time for people to participate in our democracy. In the last election, more than half of the population did not show up. I just hope that more of us get involved.

What political action will you be taking in the next few years?

A ton. I have always been involved in politics. I will call up my representatives and volunteer in my community. I have always done that. I will continue doing that. We have to show up and do our part.

Do you like popcorn and wine as much as Olivia does?

I love popcorn. I haven’t had much wine lately, as I’m breastfeeding. But popcorn is big in my house. We have popcorn for breakfast sometimes. It may not be the best parenting, but it is fun.

What’s the best feeling about being a mother?

To feel rested when you can. [laughs] It’s my best role, no question about it.

How is your eldest daughter, Isabelle, adjusting to being a big sister?

She is loving it. I like that we have two. I am an only child, but my husband has many siblings.

You look amazing. Are you back on the Hollywood track with a strict diet and fitness routine every day?

As a nursing mother, I can’t really diet. The baby comes first. And the baby wants to eat. But I am trying to exercise again. I took a break after giving birth. But it’s time to get back on the horse.

Text: Suzy Maloy/The Interview People; Photography: Gallo/Getty Images

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