“Sometimes I tweet about my parents because I can’t resist. I do tweet about my dog but not my marriage or my kids. 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.” – Kerry Washington
Please see the excerpt from a blog post by Kerrry’s Blog Her Interviewer Demetria Lucas. Follow her blog A Belle In Brooklyn.
Full Post Here: I Interviewed Kerry Washington at BlogHer.. and it was Awesome!
Here are the (edited) highlights of the interview (courtesy of BlogHer):
Demetria Lucas: Scandal returns on September 25. Can you tell us anything at all about season 4?
Kerry Washington: Well, I now know where the plane was going. I wish I could tell you cause it’s really good. The way the last season ended with 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.
DL: How do you balance your privacy with social media?
Kerry: I think it’s ever evolving. Sometimes I tweet about my parents because I can’t resist. I do tweet about my dog but not my marriage or my kids. 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.
DL: I think it makes you more interesting. As an audience, we still do appreciate actors who hold a bit more back.
KW: The fact that I don’t share it doesn’t mean it’s more interesting. It’s a lie. I’m incredibly boring. [Laughs]
DL: 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.
DL: How do you deal with the negative comments on social media?
KW: 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 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.
DL: How do you choose your roles?
KW: 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.
DL: The number one overwhelming question I got for you from social media is, does she get to keep the clothes?
KW: 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.
DL: How do you find the balance with your family, the show, and promotional activities? Where do you find time?
KW: 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 Beers 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 her. We’ll see how it goes.
DL: Who are your mentors in this business?
KW: I have heroes, Cicely Tyson, Diahann Carroll, and Barbara Streisand. People who say that they don’t fit [like] Jane Fonda, Shaunda 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.
DL: Do you have a dream role?
KW: 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.
Full transcript: HERE
Right before the interview got started, I joked that we should have brought our phones to the stage to take a picture of the audience. Kerry’s PR brought hers to her and I suggested she take a crowd selfie, or er, “usie”? It turned out awesome.