For six years, fans witnessed Kerry Washington’s Scandal character Olivia Pope solve the impossible. The ABC drama quickly changed the landscape of TV — even after it concluded in 2018 after 7 seasons.
Created by TV mogul Shonda Rhimes, Scandal follows Olivia Pope as she launches a crisis management firm. She left her position as White House communications director following her secret affair with President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn).
Jeff Perry (Cyrus Rutherford Beene), Bellamy Young (Melody Margaret Grant), Katie Lowes (Quinn Perkins, née Lindsay Dwyer), Darby Stanchfield (Abby Whelan) and Guillermo Díaz (Huck, né Diego Muñoz) were among the show’s large cast.
Starring on Scandal allowed Washington to become a household name. She earned two Emmy nominations as well as one Golden Globe nod for the part.
“It was a really coveted role,” she recalled in July 2020 when the cast reunited for charity. “There hadn’t been a Black actress as the lead of a network drama in almost 40 years, so Shonda really saw every Black actress between the age of, like, 18 to 74 at this point.”
The New York native continued, “It was actually this very powerful moment for Black women in Hollywood because … we knew how special this was. We knew that none of us had seen a role like this in our lifetime — and for us — and so there was really a sense of, like, ‘May the best woman win, and whoever gets it, we will all have her back.’”
Similarly, Rhimes spoke about how Washington toplining a broadcast drama impacted TV going forward.
“Now, it feels very normal and obvious that women of color can lead shows. So hopefully that is something that Scandal has done,” she said in a press conference in 2018, per The Hollywood Reporter. “Hopefully we’ve created a world in which we’ve stopped seeing these characters on television and it’s a magical anomaly that they’re there and there’s an otherness to them … Hopefully we’ve made a dent in that.”
Despite the show’s success, the TV mogul has shut down all possibility that she would ever revisit the series after it ended. “Scandal is finished,” the Grey’s Anatomy creator tweeted in 2018. “I love everybody and would work with everybody again in a heartbeat, but Scandal is finished.”
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