Scandal is in its sixth season, and—aside from being a kickass show about D.C.'s most famous fixer—it's a story of a black woman operating in the very white-washed world of politics. But, as Kerry Washington notes, racial identity wasn't always a key player in Olivia Pope's character.
"In the first season, it was as if Olivia Pope was raceless," she tells Glamour. "There was no denying that Olivia was a black woman, because I'm a black woman playing her in badass white trench coats that call to attention the fact that I'm not looking like anybody else on television. But we didn't talk about her identity as a black person."
This is presumably because Hollywood is rife with systemic racism, and executives still don't think mainstream audiences want to hear black women's stories on TV. They're wrong.
"The writers have become more and more willing to deal with race," she said. "When Olivia was kidnapped, it was not lost on me that the fictional president of the United States was willing to go to war to save one black woman at a time when hundreds of black women were missing in Nigeria and we were begging the world to pay attention. Shonda [Rhimes] was saying, 'The life of a black woman matters.'"
Washington also spoke about the political climate (did you hear Trump won?!), and called for greater diversity of thought. "For democracy to work, everybody has to have a voice," she explained. "It's not about demonizing other voices. It's important that there be real conversations across the aisle. There are people on the opposite end of the political spectrum who think that I'm part of a left-wing propaganda machine. It makes me sad that people would think that, because I believe for democracy to work, there has to be diversity of thought."