LR: Why do you think your show resonates so much particularly on social media. Does the topic of politics and corruption create more of a reaction from TV viewers driving them to comment over other topics like romance, crime, etc.?
Malina: Well, SCANDAL is such an everything plus the kitchen sink kind of show, that it encompasses a breadth of topics – politics, romance, and crime high among them. So, whatever floats your boat, you can discuss it or argue about with your Twitter pals.
LR: It has been a norm for your actors and producers to engage social media fans, livetweeting during the show in some cases. What do you think drives the interaction between the face of the show and the viewers?
Malina: Not “in some cases!” Very early on, we as a cast made the decision to livetweet every episode on both coasts. It was a way of telling our fans that if they would commit to watching live, we’d be there for them – to answer questions, provide behind-the-scenes information, and just generally shoot the breeze with the people who keep us employed. And Scandal fans have really responded. In this age of time-shifting television watching, we are getting terrific numbers for live-viewing, and an important part of that is the Twitter crowd.
LR: Do you foresee the potential of integrating social media even more into the actual show and plot, like a scandal born from a tweet or Facebook post, that drives episodes or storylines?
Malina: I have given up the attempt to foresee anything to do with Scandal. Early on I played the “Where’s Shonda (Rhimes) Going With This?” game, and I was a repeat loser at it. I have come to accept that there is no predicting what she’ll do next. That woman has an unbelievable imagination and a ballsiness that I admire.
LR: Overall, how important is it for popular shows to build online communities to better bolster a loyal following and viewership?
Malina: I believe that the Scandal cast and crew’s engagement with fans through social media is an integral part of the success of the show. It was a significant ingredient in helping us jump from struggling series to hit. I can’t imagine why any new show – or currently popular one – would not pursue the same online connection to viewers.