Scandal’s Bellamy Young proud to be part of the show

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Scandal returns for season three, but it will now air on Sky Living. Cast member Bellamy Young talks about the show.

Scandal's Bellamy Young proud to be part of the show

Scandal, Sky Living’s latest US import, returns for its third season. Previously a More4 series, Sky has – thankfully – now acquired the drama and will kick off the third season from Thursday 31 July.

One of the top US network dramas, Scandal stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, the woman who can fix the seemingly un-fixable for just about everyone – except herself. But then, when you’re having an affair with President Fitzgerald Grant (actor Tony Goldwyn). maybe it’s easier to focus on other people’s problems.

And then there is First Lady Mellie (Bellamy Young) and the Grant children to consider, plus all the machinations of Washington.

Created by Shonda Rhimes – the woman behind hugely successful medical dramas Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice – expect strong drama with a heavy dose of soap, an ethnically diverse ensemble cast and superb performances in Scandal. We caught up with actress Bellamy Young to get her take on this highly addictive show…

For anyone who hasn’t seen it, how would you describe Scandal?An adrenalised version of life in DC, where Olivia Pope does damage control for the wealthy and the connected, though she can’t seem to handle her own secret affair with the President of the United States! It’s a rollercoaster ride that pulls you through every kind of human emotion at breakneck speed and it’s the only place you want to be on Thursday evenings starting 31 July.

Why do you think it’s been such a huge hit in the US?I think Shonda (Rhimes, the creator of our show) just gets people, she knows what they want to believe in, she knows what they find sexy, she knows what they find interesting and she rolls all of that up into edge-of-your-seat stories lived by morally ambiguous characters. As a viewer, you’re always finding out information about yourself as you feel your alliances shift – but you can’t look away to process it because you might miss the next gasp-worthy moment! That’s great TV!

You play First Lady Mellie Grant – what drew you to that character?Well, initially, the part was very small – I only two lines in the pilot and I was set to only possibly recur over that first season. So, having not so much material to work with, I focused on knowing who the woman would be and who could stand beside Tony Goldwyn (as President Grant).

Tony had directed me on a show called Dirty Sexy Money so I knew his incredible brain, his gorgeous heart, his immense talent and I just had an idea of who his partner could be if he were the President of the United States. I drew from my knowledge of the First Ladies that I have witnessed in my lifetime and I began to craft my idea of Mellie.

In the show, Mellie’s husband, the President, is in love with another woman – Olivia Pope. How do you personally feel about them as a couple?  Gosh! Well, as an actor, it hurts to be in a scene with them because the love their characters share is so palpable, so star-crossed. Even though Mellie likes to think of Olivia as a short-term problem, it is undeniable that they share something she and Fitz never did. Not that Mellie and Fitz didn’t have great love at one point, but so much of it was built on secrets, there was never that feeling of oneness Olivia and Fitz share.

As a viewer, I think I just hang on every stolen moment they get. I don’t know where it’s going; I don’t know how to hope, but I do know if you find a soul mate like that in this life, for however long, you are very lucky indeed.

At first, Mellie’s characterisation was akin to a power-hungry soap bitch getting in the way of true love. But she’s become more rounded and is now a huge fan favourite. How did you become aware of this change in viewer perception?You know, I always felt that our writers rooted Mellie’s anger soundly in her pain, so for me, I was always sympathetic to her antics. I mean, anyone who has ever loved unrequitedly knows that you never act more crazy than when the person you love doesn’t love you!e you!

The cast of Scandal (The cast of Scandal.  Image. Sky)

As for how folks have experienced her, I guess I’m lucky that even at the beginning, people would always say ‘I love to hate you on TV!’ Maybe the people who just hated me in general were kind enough not to talk to me about it, but overall, folks have always been super-nice to me about Mellie.

Scandal is loved by males and females – can you explain why it’s a favourite with both sexes?   I think it all comes down to smart writing. And the pace – it’s adrenalised in an arguably masculine way. But I love hearing stories about women who made their men sit down to watch with them and then the next week it’s the guy who makes sure they’re home at 10 on Thursdays [when Scandal airs in the US] because Scandal is coming on.

I love the little community it has created. And the live tweeting makes it feel like a crazy fun global conversation free for all! It’s appointment TV for the new millennium.

Scandal was created by a black woman, it stars a black woman, it realistically portrays a gay marriage – can you put into words how it feels to work on such a groundbreaking show?Shonda wants everyone to be able to see themselves when they turn on the TV. No matter what you believe or who you love or what you look like – your story will be told. Your truth will be honoured. I am unspeakably proud to be able to say I am even a small part of that. It just means everything to me.

Without giving away any spoilers, what is the best thing viewers can look forward to in season three?Ooooh! Where to begin? Well, for Mellie, you’ll get a couple of flashback episodes so just like you learned how Huck got to be Huck in the season two episode titled, 752, you’ll get some crucial insight as to what has brought Mellie to who she is and where she is right now. You’ll also get to meet Jerry and Karen, finally! Season three takes everything we’ve been building and cranks it up to 11, you won’t be able to catch your breath!

Scandal series 3 starts Thursday 31 July at 9pm on Sky Living HD. Box Sets of series 1 and 2 On Demand now

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