Kerry Washington: There Was a Lot of ‘Toxicity’ in My Life Pre-‘Scandal’

Kerry Washington
Kerry Washington Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Another problem handled by Olivia Pope! Kerry Washington revealed that there was a lot of negative energy in her life prior to starring as the beloved protagonist on Shonda Rhimes’ ABC drama Scandal.

The pregnant-again actress, who is married to former NFL star Nnamdi Asomugha, told Oprah Winfrey about her personal and professional transformation during a conversation on the OWN Network’s SuperSoul Session on Sunday, May 15.

“There was a lot of toxicity in my life, people I needed to let go of in a personal way, in a business way,” she told the media mogul, 62. “And, also, I felt like I had been living my career kind of on auto-pilot.”

To make a serious change, Washington, 39, set her sights on doing theater. “There was a period before Scandal when I went into the wilderness,” she said. “I took a break and did a Broadway play. I went back to my roots as an artist.”

The Bronx-born thespian took a part in a play called Race in 2010, which told the story of three lawyers and a defendant who struggle with the evidence of a legal case and their own feelings about race. The job provided her an opportunity to clear her mind by sticking to a daily routine.

“‘Going into the wilderness’ really meant stripping myself of a lot of unnecessary weight in my life. The ritual of doing theater, I thought of it as going into a monastery, because you do the same thing eight times a week, in the same place, you say the same words with the same props. It is a ritual that you commit to,” the mom of Isabelle, 2, recounted. “I just wanted to, in a monk-like way, commit to that ritual and let it teach me about myself and let myself unfold.”

Washington said that her experience on Broadway made an indelible mark on her future. “I let go of a lot of people and a lot of things. I experienced a lot of loss, professionally. I had, for example, companies that I was working with on an endorsement level that walked away from me because … not everybody thinks Broadway is ‘sexy,’” she recalled of that phase in her career.

“My personal life changed a great deal. I allowed myself to be open to change … I don’t talk about my personal life very often, but that’s true,” she added. “Going into the wilderness made me ready — as an artist, as a person, as a businesswoman — to receive Scandal.”

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