Kerry Washington Develops Skill in Acting as Teen Safe-Sex Educator

Kerry Washington Develops Skill in Acting as Teen Safe-Sex Educator

The Olivia Pope depicter admires her on-screen character on political drama series 'Scandal' for her maternal and nurturing side.

Kerry Washington graces the front page of Vanity Fair's August issue. The Olivia Pope of "Scandal" is white hot showing off her curves in a swimsuit as she's lounging in the swimming pool. For the cover story, the 36-year-old brunette beauty opens up about how she becomes quite skilled in acting.

The "Django Unchained" actress dishes on that it was her pre-Hollywood job that helped her build her acting skill, rather than a professional training in drama class. She says she developed her skills while working as a teenager safe-sex advocate, doing self-penned sex-ed sketches with an educational group in schools.

"We would stay in character after the show, and the audience would interact with us. It taught me the importance of really understanding everything about who you're playing, because you never knew what question was going to come," she remembers.

She has her work cut out for her when she was offered the role of Olivia Pope, a White House crisis-management expert who was involved in affair with Mr. President. "I have to learn things to be her all the time," she says, explaining it includes reading Jeffrey Toobin's "The Nine" to better understand Supreme Court machinations and having regular phone conferences with Judy Smith, the real-life D.C. crisis-management expert upon whom her character is loosely based.

"Scandal" creator Shonda Rimes praises her leading lady for coming well-prepared. "I have never heard Kerry Washington complain," she said. "That sounds like a casual thing to toss off, but think about the fact that she works more hours than anybody. I literally never hear her complain. That is a very rare breed of person." All the hard work Washington did pays off in the end as many tell her how the strong personality of her on-screen character inspires them. "One of the most profound things for me about the show is the number of white women of all ages who come up to me and say, 'I want to be Olivia Pope'," the actress says.

"It's especially profound in a place like South Africa," she continues. "It's called 'The Fixer' over there, and it just started its second season. The fact that white women can see this woman of color as an aspirational character is revolutionary, I think, in the medium of television. I don't think white women would feel that way about Olivia if her identity as a woman, period, wasn't first in their mind."



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