Kerry Washington on playing the 'post-Clair Huxtable'
February 5th, 2013
05:11 PM ET

Kerry Washington on playing the 'post-Clair Huxtable'

Over the past year, Kerry Washington took on the challenge of portraying two characters from vastly different time periods.

There's the powerful, if personally misguided, Washington, D.C., "fixer" Olivia Pope on ABC's "Scandal," and the slave Broomhilda in the Oscar-nominated "Django Unchained."

The sizable task at hand wasn't lost on 36-year-old Washington, who told Ebony magazine in its March issue that she's "grateful ... these two women on opposite ends of history, on opposite ends of their experience, both strong women but in such different ways, can exist at the same time."

Portraying Pope, who carries a central storyline of having an affair with the president on the soapy drama, isn't about seeking perfection.

“One of the things that challenges me most and that I love most about playing her is how flawed she is,” Washington said. “In her professional life, she is so powerful and is this self-made woman. She is the answer to Broomhilda’s prayers."

In a way, Pope's messy private life is something of an answer to Washington's, too. "I love that I get to embody all of that complexity because I also think it takes a certain level of progress for us to have a Black woman that powerful be an emotional mess on television," she said. "She's the post-[Clair] Huxtable."

Yet before she signed on to the Shonda Rhimes-created drama, Washington told Ebony she thought carefully about how her character's behavior would be received, particularly considering that she has been a vocal and visible supporter of the Obama administration.

“I was a little concerned because [the character has] a scandalous relationship with the [occupant of the] White House,” the actress said. “I thought, ‘If the president on the show is Black, I will not do the show.’ Because to me, it was too important a moment. I didn’t want to do anything that compromised my relationship with the [president] or that made it seem like I had an insider view on the Obama presidency. I thought that would be so disrespectful and so against all the work that I had done."

Look for Ebony's March issue in select locations starting today.

Filed under: television

soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. CaliforniaBomb

    shut up already...

    February 11, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dr E Lewis

    I actually LOVE Scandal and appreciate the show for what it is (a scandalous show), but they are NUTS if they think "Olivia Pope" comes CLOSE to Claire Huxtable!!!
    Claire was a professional, upstanding career woman, wife and mother. She wouldn't have been caught dead laid up in the WH letting the married President pull her panties down in the Oval Office!! Sorry, Olivia Pope could NEVER be Claire Huxtable...NEVER !!!

    February 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. cruzy

    weekend hahaha

    February 9, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. hi

    for me its the eyes...can't look at them..they control me....

    February 9, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. wait

    who's clair?

    February 9, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Shonda

    Although I love this show, Olivia Pope is NOT the post Claire Huxtable, Clair would never in her career sleep with a married man, let alone advocate election rigging or playing along with the corrupt government going on on this show.

    February 9, 2013 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  7. Izoto

    I'd hit that again, and again, and again. Dem lips.

    February 7, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. CoolMom24

    I'm confused, Kerry Washington advocates for abused women but also for aborting baby girls. So, is it just adult women that you care about, not the millions of baby girls that are aborted in this country every year? Hmm...

    February 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smarter

      Mom24, you're not confused, just not bright enough to see that there is a huge difference between the two. And, by the way, when someone calls themself a "Cool" Mom (or a "Hot" Mom) they are anything but. Giving yourself that name is most uncool, like you.

      February 11, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Attention Required

    gee i think i'll smash a computer.

    February 7, 2013 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. HarrisonMA

    Those who can, do; those who can't,criticize.

    February 7, 2013 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. CJ

    So the scandalous president isn't black and that makes it ok? Doesn't that make her racist by saying it's ok to portray non-blacks as scandalous but not blacks? Portraying anyone as scandalous is disrespectful.

    February 6, 2013 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Either you didnt read what she said, or you didnt understand it. She actually in real life does work with Pres. Obama. but on the show, she has a relationship with the president, she not want the public to mistake that as real life as if she was taking what she knew at the white house with obama and using it in the show. She also did not want to compromise her real life relationship with the White House

      February 7, 2013 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
  12. hi there

    i am new to blogging–how are you doing

    February 6, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lisabeth

    I don't care much about Kerry. I don't find her attractive either. She is too calculating, talkative and stiff – almost wants to look perfect all the time. Relax girl and live life – life is too short and life is not always about fashion. Women who has come to their full circule knows that. I love SCANDAL though but I feel like she ruins it sometimes – I easily see her through when she is trying to look perfect in the middle of acting, like squinching her eyes (when it is not needed), sizing in and out her mouth.... ugh. Tony is such a brilliant actor and she sometimes ruins it for him. I hope she gets better the more she works with Tony.

    February 6, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. 155.155

    does your boyfriend know you do these things.....

    February 6, 2013 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  15. Tim99

    Almost 9 o clock. Almost my bedtime. I hope everyone liked the jokes and has happy dreams.

    February 5, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Douglas craft

    kerry washington is ahead of her time

    February 5, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  17. serious?

    Damn, if that's how Webster turned out then I want to see what happened to Theo Huxtable.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Ginger

    Webster isn't gone. He will never be gone. He lives on in each of us. Saying Webster is gone is like saying Santa is gone. We LOVE Good Webster.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Jenn

    I loved her as Webster. She did great playing a young African American boy and will also do good in this part ! Go Webster !

    February 5, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |

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