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Exclusive: Kerry Washington Talks Scandal DVD

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Exclusive: Kerry Washington Talks Scandal: The Complete First Season
By Wilson Morales

June 11, 2012

Coming out this Tuesday, June 12 on DVD is the sensational new ABC series, Scandal: The Complete First Season, starring Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, a former crisis management expert to the President, who now heads her own firm.

Written and created by Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy”, “Private Practice”), the series also stars Henry Ian Cusick, Columbus Short, Guillermo Diaz, Darby Stanchfield, Katie Lowes, Tony Goldwyn, and Jeff Perry.

Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) dedicates her life to protecting the public images of the nation’s elite and making sure their secrets never get out. Olivia is a former White House communications director for the President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn), but has left to start her own crisis management firm, Olivia Pope and Associates. She is hoping to begin a new chapter of her life, but is finding out that she cannot leave parts of her past behind.

The show has been renewed for a second season, and for Washington, who’s known for her film work that includes Save The Last Dance, Ray, The Last King of Scotland, and Night Catches Us, the show showcases a black female lead character on network TV since the early 70s.

Blackfilm.com recently spoke with Washington, who’s currently on the set of her latest film, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained,’ about the show and the upcoming DVD.

What should fans expect on the DVD besides watching the episodes again?

Kerry Washington: It’s worth buying even if you are someone who has every episode saved on your DVR because there are some really great behind-the-scene stuff and interviews with the writers, the producers, and the cast. There’s even footage of each of us in our audition, which we all had to approve of. So, it’s very embarrassing for us actors but very cool for you guys to see us in that process.

Was there any particular scene or episode that you enjoyed shooting?

KW: It’s hard because it’s such a dream job and the material is so exciting. I could probably pick a favorite scene with each actor but to pick a favorite scene overall would be impossible. We have so much fun at work and we have so much respect for each other as a cast and for the crew, it would be hard to pick scene over another.

How do you feel being an African American actress in a lead role on a network show? This is something we rarely see on television.

KW: It’s exciting. I’m definitely grateful and aware that my compadres are and have been doing fantastic work that paved the way for this opportunity, whether it’s Diahann Carroll in ‘Julia,’ Jada Pinkett Smith in ‘Hawthorne,’ Anika Noni Rose and Jill Scott with ‘The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,’ and Regina King in ‘Southland.’ A lot of women of color are bringing it on the cable shows and historically. I’m not alone. I think people are constantly trying to paint the picture that this character is the only one because it’s been three plus decades since we have seen it on network television, but there’s a community of women of color who are doing fantastic work on television right now. There’s such wonderful opportunities for women in general, and women of color in TV in ways where there were never before.

There was a period in time when people didn’t want to be in the TV industry because they felt they may be typecast from the character they played, but these days, one can do both TV and film. Why is that?

KW: I think it’s a couple of reasons. With the rise of cable, some shows have a shorter season so that allows people to have careers where the demands of works are diversified. You just don’t have two months a year to squeeze in a play, but you’re able to do that, and a movie, and a TV show. I also think the material that we’re able to get has been so much edgier. You really have high quality material on television now. Those sorts of landscapes have changed so much that there’s great work out there in all areas.

In working with the cast, does everyone go their separate way after work, or do you have out afterwards?

KW: We’re very much a family. I think we’re obsessed with each other. We really love working together. It’s just a joy.

I know it’s not in your control, but if there was anything you can change with Olivia’s personality for next season, what would it be?

KW: Oh, I wouldn’t dare. I trust these writers and I have so much respect for what they’ve done. When people ask, “You weren’t looking to go to television, so what made you want to do this?” and I say it’s the writing. The character, the world of the show, and the way things are articulated, that honestly, as actors, we get these scripts every week, and they’re so good, we feel our job is not to screw it up. That’s great work. I’m excited to see where they are going to take Olivia as opposed to me having a direction to where I would want to take her.

From someone who is as powerful on the small scene, your next role on the big screen has you in the opposite direction with ‘Django Unchained.’

KW: I think that is debatable. I think there are lots of types of power. Obviously, the character that I’m playing right now is not empowered in terms of her freedom or access to education but she is constantly exercising her power and trying to escape the conditions that she’s in and rising above them.

From what I hear, that character you play goes through a lot of exploitation. Will that be displayed on screen?

KW: It’s hard for me to get into those sort of conversations. Not because I don’t have an opinion about it, but I’m still doing the work, and work is very close to me and we’re not finished. I have to stay in my space of doing the work. There will be a point to talk about it and have that conversation, but when you’re an artist, you have to be in the space that you’re in.

What’s a good reason to pick up Scandal: The Complete First Season?

KW: It’s such a fun show. What’s great to me is when you are watching the pilot, that, at the end of the first episode, you realize that this woman Olivia Pope, who I play, is the center of Pope and Associates. You realize that she isn’t exactly who you thought she was at the beginning of the episode. What I love (about the show), is that by the end of the season, nobody is who you think they are. It’s so full of twists and turns and it really keeps you on your toes. It’s an exciting, fun, intriguing show.


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