BIGASK

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch - BY COLIN VICK­ERY

KERRY Wash­ing­ton is break­ing new ground. The 35-year-old is the first African-Amer­i­can fe­male lead in a ma­jor US tele­vi­sion drama since 1974’s Get Christie Love! star­ring Teresa Graves.

Wash­ing­ton, best known for roles in Bos­ton Le­gal and The Last King of Scot­land, plays cri­sis man­ager Olivia Pope in Scan­dal.

The po­lit­i­cal drama comes from Grey’s Anatomy and Pri­vate Prac­tice writer/ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Shonda Rhimes.

Olivia Pope can be fierce. View­ers will have mixed feel­ings about her. Are you com­fort­able with that?

I re­ally love play­ing com­pli­cated women. Shonda says she loves to write flawed char­ac­ters be­cause the re­al­ity is that we are all flawed. She writes real peo­ple who are three-di­men­sional and that is a joy for any ac­tor.

Not a lot of TV shows have been set in the world of pol­i­tics. is an ex­cep­tion. Was that a con­cern?

The West Wing The thing that is so cool about cri­sis man­age­ment is that you never know who’s go­ing to walk through your door. So set­ting the show in Wash­ing­ton DC is ex­cit­ing be­cause it is the nexus of power for so many dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries and fields. From show to show, who walks into Olivia’s of­fice is un­pre­dictable.

How­closely is Olivia based on (cri­sis man­age­ment ex­pert) Judy Smith?

I’m very blessed that Judy is on the show (as pro­ducer) and she’s very hands-on. She is help­ing us to un­der­stand this high-stakes world and the strate­gic think­ing that goes into it. There are ways that Olivia is very dif­fer­ent from Judy, though.

How­would you de­scribe Olivia?

Olivia is the smartest per­son in the room. Her pro­fes­sional life is in con­trol but her per­sonal life is a mess. She is not who she seems to the out­side world. It was re­ally ex­cit­ing to wrap my head around those con­tra­dic­tions and to make both sides of this woman very real.

You are star­ring in

you work in movies, are a

Scan­dal,

L’Oreal spokes­woman and a po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist, speak­ing at this year’s Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion. How do you man­age it all?

I have been re­ally lucky to be sur­rounded by women who are great multi-taskers that be­lieve in be­ing of ser­vice on many lev­els. I don’t know how Shonda sleeps at night with char­ac­ters from three shows run­ning around in her head. Scan­dal, Chan­nel 7, Mon­day,

9.15pm

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