Kerry Washington arrives at the world premiere of “Peeples” at the ArcLight Hollywood on May 8, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
by Michael Cidoni Lennox
LOS ANGELES (AP) — She wouldn’t even serve up a little taste.
When asked for details about next week’s “Scandal” finale on ABC, the best that series star Kerry Washington would do was lift the cover off the pot, then quickly replace it, leaving us with just an aroma.
But it was a mouth-watering tease.
“I can tell you that, at the season finale, people were gasping and screaming at the table read,” Washington said. “(There was) crying and laughing, and we were shocked to the core — to the core!”
Just a year ago, you might have recognized Washington from her supporting roles in films such as “Ray,” ”Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “The Last King of Scotland.”
But thanks to the success of “Scandal,” her star finally looms above the character-actor fray. Today, Washington’s Twitter followers are in seven figures, and millions more tune in each week to see what her “Scandal” character — Washington crisis manager Olivia Pope — is going to fix next, including Pope’s own, extremely messed-up life.
“Because I’ve been a character actor for most of my entire career, I haven’t really been recognized in the street in the way that I am now, because I’ve sort of made a career of disappearing in the different roles,” Washington observed. “So, it’s crazy now.”
Even crazier: Washington became the first African-American female to head a broadcast-network drama since Teresa Graves announced, “You’re under arrest, sugah!” in ABC’s 1974-75 cop drama, “Get Christie Love!”
“I do think it’s a little bit sad that a show like ‘Scandal’ could be considered historical at this point,” Washington commented. “But I also think it’s exciting where we live in a world that has a Black women as the No. 1 on the show can be such a hit right now. I don’t feel like it’s any accomplishment of mine. But I do feel like, as a society, that we all can feel really proud that we live in a world — we all contribute to a community — where our protagonists can look so many different ways and be so many different kinds of people.”
It’s been some year for the 36-year-old Washington, who, in addition to “Scandal,” had a key role in director Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-nominated best picture “Django Unchained,” and returns to the big screen this weekend in the family comedy “Peeples.”
“I love having a project like ‘Peeples’ out there right now, especially because I feel like people need a reason to laugh,” Washington said. “And so I just feel thrilled that (her character) Grace Peeples is such a different character from both Olivia (Pope) and (“Django Unchained’s”) Broomhilda. But also that the project itself is just filled with joy.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah. But back to that “Scandal” finale.
“The very last moment of the script” — Washington continued, teasing again — “I almost couldn’t get it out of my mouth, because I was so surprised.”
The “Scandal” season-two finale airs Thursday, May 16, at 10 p.m. EDT. “Peeples” opens Friday.
Follow Michael Cidoni Lennox at http://www.twitter.com/MikeCLennox