DL) Demetria Lucas: Abelleinbrooklyn.com (KW) Kerry washington: Actor on Scandal, Activist
Demetria: Sept 25 is when Scandal is back out. Can you tell us anything at all about season 4?
KW: Well I now know where the plane was going, I wish I could tell you cause it’s really good. I can’t tell you because I would give it away. The way the last season ended what happens to Olivia Pope is kind of what you would do to a character you were writing off of the show. I was a little concerned but I am still on the show which is good. It is like a reset button has been pushed. Last season, I feel like Olivia stepped away from it all to try to take some control over her life. So the new season picks up here.
Demetria: Last season there were lots of deaths, Jerry, James, Harrison.
Kerry: Well we don’t know, it’s sort of a cliff hanger. We don’t know a thing until we read the scrips. It’s so fun to be on social media with fans because we have no idea what’s coming and we can identify with the level of excitement from the fans.
Demetria: Whose idea was it for the cast to be tweeting and on social media.
Kerry: It’s weird everyone is working, and then tweeting during breaks, and then back to work when they call action again. Everybody is on twitter. How that happened was sort of a fun team work situation. I have a great social media manager, Allison Peters. I was terrified of social media because I’m a very private person. I didn’t know how to engage while still being private. Allison helped me find a way to have a voice that was still authentic and be engaged but not feel like I”m giving too much of myself. I wanted the cast to be on social media, but I didn’t want to be the bossy lead actor. So I asked Shonda Rhimes (creator of the show) to ask everyone. We were all a fan of our own show and all of us got on twitter every Thursday and got behind the show, appreciated our fans. Social Media and our fans saved our show.
Demetria: I think everyone on here is on twitter on Thursday nights.
Kerry: It’s weird because Oprah stopped by the show. There are so few water cooler shows now because you can watch most shows whenever you want, like on netflix. Social Media has allowed us to be a water cooler show because if you don’t watch it when it airs, social media may spoil it for you.
Demetria: How do you balance your privacy with social media?
Kerry: I think it’s ever evolving. For me, the hair, makeup, fashion, that’s still professional for me. Before I became an actor, I was totally a tomboy, hanging out in the Bronx. At some point I started realizing that the red carpet was a marketing landscape. For me to stand behind my work, I had to respect that world. When i go to fashion shows, i think of it the same as if I’m going to the ballet or the museum. So that’s where I kind of opened up to hair and makeup and fashion so I’m really comfortable talking about it in a social media landscape.
Sometimes I tweet about my parents because I can’t resist. I do tweet about my dog but not my marriage or my kid. As an actor, I feel like it’s harder to lose yourself in my work if you know too much about me. You may have to do a little more work as an audience member to dive into my relationship with my coworkers. I like to keep my life a mystery so you can enjoy the story more.
Demetria: I think it makes you more interesting. As an audience we still do appreciate actors who hold a bit more back.
Kerry: The fact that I don’t share it doesn’t mean it’s more interesting, it’s a lie. I’m incredibly boring.
Demetria: How do you deal with some of the backlash about the image of a black woman in Scandal?
Kerry: I think my job as an actor is to embody humanity. I often felt a lot of fulfillment by taking a character that someone may have thought of as a stereotype and infusing that character with as much humanity as possible. As an actor, I’m given the honor of giving you an inside look into that person’s life and their heart. Stories of a homeless woman or a drug addict, as an actor, i can force you to feel for them by letting you into their life, into their mind. I think every human being has value, I never think it’s ok to think a character is worthless because of something they have done. Part of being a black woman and being able to work, means I get to tell stories about people we don’t always pay attention to.
Demetria: How do you deal with the negative comments on social media?
Kerry: I don’t weigh myself because there’s never a good answer on the scale. For me reading comments is the same way. It’s brain clutter. But it is hard, in social media you feel like you’re a community. People in social media can be very mean. Some of our cast members have struggled with it a lot. Sometimes people come to social media to find a community, a sense of belonging, a place where they feel like they can empower themselves. Often that can be a positive place. Sometimes it’s done in really negative ways by building community through judgment and criticism and a holier than thou attitude. I have to protect myself from that because it’s sort of high school. As much as I want to be part of that community, I don’t look to the social media community to affirm my work.
Demetria: How do you choose your roles?
Kerry: My roles have been all over the place. Up until Scandal, I’ve had a really full and rich career. I prided myself on disappearing into the character. People don’t tie one character into the other. Scandal has changed that, because there’s no disappearing. I’m in people’s houses at the same time every week. For me the way I choose my work is the material. It’s all in the page and the writing. Wanting to work with the writing and the directing, and immense talent.
Demetria: What was the pull for scandal particularly?
Kerry: I wasn’t really looking to do a network TV show. I really liked my film career. But then my agent told me it was Shonda Rhimes. My agent told me it was almost like she had written it for me even though we had never met. I am a lot like the character because she is so complicated and we’re all complicated. I was looking for a role that had that kind of 3 dimensionality. My interest in politics and human rights and then I got to the last 3 pages of the script, it was like oh my gosh she slept with the President? And then I was hooked and I really wanted the role. So then I auditioned and begged and pleaded and I got it.
Demetria: The number one overwhelming question I got for you from social media is, does she get to keep the clothes?
Kerry: Um..No. We didn’t want the fashion on the show to be fake, where very episode has new episodes. I wanted the clothes to be amazing because I felt like this kind of women would have a global aesthetic but I wanted her to have a real closet. Every single episode has an item you’ve seen before. Often, 2 or 3 reused items. So there’s a very big Olivia Pope closet. People tell me all the time I want her clothes, and I say me too. I wish I could afford her clothes. Lynn Paolo costume designer and I have partnered with The Limited to design this sort of Olivia Pope style. I wanted her to be powerful but feminine. I wanted her to have a a waist. With The Limited we could design this powersuit at a price point that women could afford. It comes out the same week the show comes out. We committed to The Limited that I would wear pieces from the collection on the show.
Kerry: I worked at the Limited in college.
Demetria: How do you find the balance with your family, the show, and promotional activities? Where do you find time?
Kerry: I’m exhausted. But I feel we can all relate to that. Women are all natural multi taskers and even if we’re not, we figure it out. The mom part is new to me so i don’t know yet what the balance is like. I go back to work on Monday. Up to this point, it’s been really important for me to ask for help and say when I don’t know and to be part of a community of women. It’s been an amazing experience for me to have a woman like Shonda Rhimes and her partner Betsy as my bosses. I benefit from having a woman boss in ways that are even hard for me to articulate. It is so tremendous to work for a woman. Every time we don’t step into a leadership role, we are robbing somebody. I bring it up because Shonda has taught me a lot about balance. She’s got 3 kids and 3 shows. She has tremendous power and she wields her power with grace and responsibility, I learn a lot from here. We’ll see how it goes.
Demetria: Women as bosses get a bad rap. It’s actually a very symbiotic relationship.
Kerry: I think it’s very special working with women. We understand the concept of community.
Demetria: Who are your mentors in this business?
Kerry: I have heroes, Cicely Tyson, Diahann Carroll, Barbara Streisand. People who say that they don’t fit the Jane Fonda, Shonda Rhymes. The movie 9 to 5 resulted in the union for administrative assistants because it brought to light the need for union because of abuse in the workplace of women. So Jane Fonda is a real mentor of mine.
Demetria: Do you have a dream role?
Kerry: No I don’t have a dream role. My mentors are ones who haven’t allowed age to stop them. So for me, I don’t have a dream role because I feel like the bar keeps moving. Maybe I’m scared to have a dream role because I feel like I’ll have to retire after that.
Audience: I just wanted to tell you that you inspired us all over and you keep doing what you’re doing.
Kerry: Thank you!
Audience: I am an LGBT Latina so I’m very excited about the representation on the show. How can we create that space for people to be very visible?
Kerry: I come from a very politically active family. When i became of age to vote, my parents treated it like a right of passage. No one should be silenced because they are a celebrity. I speak out because I want everybody to speak out, I want to encourage everybody to speak out. Show support for people who do speak out there. Just continue to show support for people who do it.
Audience: I just wanted to send you love from working moms everywhere. I thought Scandal was the perfect binge watch.
Kerry: Thank you, I just wanted to binge watch Luther.
Audience: What is it that you do in your activist life?
Kerry: I have 2 causes that are really important to me. One is women’s issues. I’ve been a board member for the V board. I really believe in V Day, as a play(Vagina Monologues) that’s really moved the world. I really believe in art to transform the lives of kids. It shouldn’t be the sprinkles on the ice cream cone. It’s how you get kids to go to school, stay in school. If you study music, your math scores are higher. If you study art and poetry, your English scores are higher. The statistics are there. I just try to show up. I participate in a twitter chat with Hilary Clinton. Our country is only going to be as good as we are, and to just show up.
Audience: Women of color have been so hungry for representation in media, and you are the first black woman to lead a network drama in decades, have you felt pressure from that? If you feel like that’s different from all the cable reality grossness.
Kerry: When I first heard the statistic, I realize that it hasn’t been in my lifetime where a woman of color has lead a network drama. I’ve never felt the pressure, like the pressure is on me. I just come to work and do what I do. The pressure is on audiences, to think about whether they are willing to embrace heroes who are antiheroes or something different. I think one of the reasons it resonates with people is because our show represents diversity on every level: age, race, socioeconomic, religion, sexual orientation. we are an inclusive show where everyone has a voice. I never really felt the pressure. Were you willing to support that didn’t look like any other show out there and I’m very happy to live in a world where the answer was yes.
Audience: now that you’re a new mom, are you interested in other causes that relate to what you’re going through as a new mother?
Kerry: I’m lucky because i’ve always been active around protecting women and girls, kids and education. So I don’t really have to move that far to embrace things that impact my daughter. But then again my daughter falls into a very private space for me. Not that I don’t think it would be great, but that space still belongs to me and my family. In motherhood, everything’s different so I am looking at things differently for sure.
Audience: As a working mother, a woman in general, we’re all very busy. How do you make the decision about what you’re going to dedicate yourself to.
Kerry: I’ve really tried to embrace that oxygen mask on the plan concept. To really take care of yourself first. I think about am I taking care of the basics for myself first and then I can go out into the world and give my best. I got great advice from, Bob Iger (CEO of Disney), he is in charge of everything from a theme park to Scandal. I asked him how do you decide what to do in a day?
80% of his time he tries to think about where he can have impact. It may not usually be cruises,sometimes it’s a Broadway show. The other 20% is what brings me joy. There are certain things that fall in his work responsibilities but also brings him joy. It’s important to be effective in the work place but also do things that bring us joy.
Audience: Are you a writer? Do you see yourself doing writing in the future?
Kerry: I don’t call myself a writer. I was a writer in school. I enjoy writing and I think I would like to explore that part of myself as an artist at one point.
Audience: Would you ever write a memoir?
Kerry: I don’t think so. I would have to be like really close to death.
Kerry Washington Takes Baby Daughter Isabelle to Disneyland, Holds Hands With Husband Nnamdi Asomugha
The happiest place on Earth! New mom Kerry Washington and her husband Nnamdi Asomugha took their 3-month-old daughter, Isabelle Amarachi Asomugha, to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park on Saturday, July 19. The uber private couple were joined by members of Washington’s family and friends, an eyewitness tells Us Weekly.
The Scandal star kept it casual in a loose-fitting tank top and boyfriend jeans as she held hands with her husband, who donned a sweatshirt and baseball cap.
As for little Isabelle, the eyewitness tells Us she has “a lot of hair and seemed cuddly and happy.” Washington, who welcomed her first child in April, “held the baby while watching the World of Color show,” the source adds. While they toured the park, their precious little one rested safely in a room at the Grand Californian hotel with a nanny.