Kerry Washington on How Themes of 'Scandal' and 'Confirmation' Play Out in the Current Election

The actress shares the advice Ellen Pompeo gave her when she first landed her role on 'Scandal,' talks her run on Broadway in David Mamet's 'Race,' which prepared her for the role, and her work as Anita Hill in the HBO film 'Confirmation.'

Kerry Washington's roles in television are becoming increasingly intertwined with reality.

In THR's Drama Actress Roundtable, the star of Scandal and Confirmation shared with some of TV's leading ladies (including Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Paulson and Regina King) the roles her characters Olivia Pope and Anita Hill play out in the current presidential election. 

"There have been times where we all thought, 'Oh, we can’t say that. It’s too outrageous' even for our show, which is called Scandal — so not much is outrageous. The reality of what is going on in the world is far, far scarier than anything we could begin to put on our show. … A lot of why I thought Confirmation was important to make is because it's really about process and participation and how our democracy represents us if we show up for the process. I’m very concerned about this election and about things that in the beginning almost seemed funny and nonsensical. They are not funny anymore. It’s really scary.

"For me I like playing these two women because they are on opposite sides of the political structure," added Washington. "One is incredibly empowered and the other one was the exact opposite."

Washington also noted that performing on Broadway (she played a role in David Mamet's Race) prepared her for Scandal, and shared the advice fellow Shondaland star Ellen Pompeo (Grey's Anatomy) gave her when she first landed her role on Scandal

"Ellen Pompeo pulled me aside before we went into our first season, and she said, 'You must treat yourself like an athlete.' I was like, 'What do you mean?' She said, 'Sleep, eat, take supplements like an athlete. You will need it.' Thank God I listened to her enough that I was kind of thinking in those ways, but I had no idea."

More roundtables featuring comedy actresses, comedy and drama actors and reality hosts and producers will roll out throughout June in print and online. Tune in to new episodes of Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter starting June 26 on SundanceTV. And look for clips at THR.com/roundtables starting May 16, with full episodes on THR.com after broadcast.

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