The Scandal star, 37, said her mother started sobbing when she told her in the late '90s that she was pursuing an acting career. "My parents are really happy for me [now]," Washington said of her mom Valerie and dad Earl. Prior to landing her Emmy-nominated role as Olivia Pope, the George Washington grad acted in indie movies like Our Song (2000) and The Dead Girl (2006). Her best-known film credits include supporting roles in 2004's Ray and 2006's The Last King of Scotland.
"I think they're the kind of parents who are interestingly more proud of the fact that I have an appointed position in the White House than they are of the show," Washington mused. "Or that I've been able to be experiencing such joy in my personal life. Those things matter to them more. But they're grateful I'm not the starving artist they feared I would be." (The actress married husband Nnamdi Asomugha in a top-secret ceremony in July 2013; the couple welcomed their first child, daughter Isabelle Amarachi, this past April.)
Still, Washington revealed that her parents tune in to Scandal, and share the same sentiments with the series' millions of viewers. "You will find out where Olivia goes. You'll get that answer," Washington promised. "We do deal with the loss of Harrison on the show. What else can I tell you? People have really big feelings about our show. If I had to talk plot with them more, I'd have to deal a lot more with their opinions. I have to deal with it with my own parents constantly. My dad is like, 'I think she should be with so and so.'" (On the smash ABC drama, Washington's character is caught in a forbidden love triangle between the already-married President Fitzgerald Grant and his best friend, Captain Jake Ballard.)
Washington said that in some ways she can relate to Pope. "I've always been really outspoken about social issues. I've always felt really strongly that I can't let the fact that I'm in the public eye inhibit me," she told USA Today. "I try not to worry what people think about me and my life."
Unlike Olivia, Washington said she prefers bold prints and bright colors. "It's way too weird. I'd never wear her clothes," she told the paper. "I don't dress like Olivia. I've been able to define in many ways when I'm Olivia and when I'm Kerry, based on the clothes."
In fact, the actress joked during the interview about undergoing the knife. "I had corrective surgery yesterday, in preparation for this shoot," Washington said. "I don't judge anyone for doing it. In L.A., it's like, you haven't done that yet?"