'Scandal' star Kerry Washington is 'the most intriguing star' on cover of August 'Vanity Fair.'
Seems like only yesterday that Scandal star Kerry Washington was glowing on the cover of Elle. Oh, wait; it was yesterday.
But today, she's a cover girl again, this time on Vanity Fair, in a cut-out white bathing suit.
"The most intriguing star — The most intriguing show," the headline on the August issue proclaims.
Inside, she talks with writer David Kamp about her surprise hit show, in which she plays Washington, D.C. fixer Olivia Pope. To Kerry's surprise, Olivia has become a model for women, white and black, American and not.
"One of the most profound things for me about the show is the number of white women of all ages who come up to me and say, 'I want to be Olivia Pope,' " she marvels.
"It's especially profound in a place like South Africa" where it's called The Fixer. "The fact that white women can see this woman of color as an aspirational character is revolutionary, I think, in the medium of television. I don't think white women would feel that way about Olivia if her identity as a woman, period, wasn't first in their mind."
Kerry admires Olivia, but she's not Olivia, she tells Kamp, because Olivia is smarter, probably smarter than almost everybody in any given room.
"I have to learn things to be her all the time," she says. It can be hard work: She read Jeffrey Toobin's The Nine to better understand Supreme Court machinations, and speaks regularly with Judy Smith, the real-life D.C. crisis-management expert upon whom Olivia is loosely based.
A daughter of the Bronx, Washington says she was brought up to be socially conscious. Her parents were the kind who took her at age 13 to hear Nelson Mandela speak at Yankee Stadium, and celebrated her turning 18 and eligible to vote the way others would throw a Sweet 16 party. "My parents took me out to dinner, and we talked about who I was going to vote for."
So no surprise she was a teen safe-sex advocate. She says it was some of the best actor training she ever had, performing self-written sex-ed sketches with an educational troupe in schools and community centers:
"We would stay in character after the show, and the audience would interact with us," she says. "It taught me the importance of really understanding everything about who you're playing, because you never knew what question was going to come."
The August issue is available on newsstands and on the iPad, Nook, and Kindle on July 9.