There are a lot of positive things about Kerry Washington’s character on “Scandal.” Her Olivia Pope is a strong woman who runs her own business and has the skills to deal with the complications of politics.
It still surprises Washington when someone says they see Pope as a role model.
“She’s having an affair with a married man who is the president of the United States,” Washington says with a smile.
That’s bad enough, but Pope has also been involved with a murder and a stolen election.
What Washington counters with is that Pope has qualities worth admiring.
“She is an entrepreneur. She is very smart. She has an amazing closet. And those are all things that I think are worthy of admiration. But she is nobody’s role model,” Washington says.
What Pope is, to Washington, is a complicated character, the kind series creator Shondra Rhimes likes to create for her programs (“Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How To Get Away With Murder.”) Her characters are not necessarily all good or all evil. They are more like real people who deal with good and bad ideas all day.
“I actually remember a young woman who wrote me a letter about how she, God bless her, could not get off her couch. She was so devastated in the episode when Olivia stole the election, because that was really the first time that Olivia became a bad guy on the show, and up until that point, she had been everything you want to be, if you want to have an affair with a married man who is president of the United States. But she was truly devastated,” Washington says. “She said to me in the letter that she was grateful because it forced her in her therapy sessions to talk about making room for people in her life to be complicated and allowing the people in her life to not have to be perfect, to allowing for her own imperfections and her own humanity.
“I think that’s what’s so powerful about this work.”