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Kerry Washington reflects on Scandal’s history-making success and the pressure to get it right


Credit: ABC/Eric McCandless

Ahead of her new Hulu series, Little Fires EverywhereKerry Washington is reflecting on the pressure she felt to make her ABC drama series Scandal a success.

“I didn’t feel the pressure from my ego, like ‘I have to make the show work,’” Washington told Variety. “It was more ‘If we f*** this up, it’s going to be another 40 years before they let a black woman be the lead of a network drama. We have to get this right.’”

Washington, who was nominated for an Emmy for her portrayal of Washington DC fixer Olivia Pope, said she heard “a gajillion times” just how important her role was since she was the first black woman to headline a network drama in 40 years.

With that pressure now behind her, Washington says she still keeps her eye on similar opportunities where she can make a difference.

“I had such a beautiful, collaborative relationship on Scandal with Shonda (Rhimes), and I think that made me feel like, going forward in my career, I only wanted to work on projects where I felt I could be heard,” she said.

One of those projects is Washington’s Little Fires Everywhere, which officially marks the actor’s first serialized television role since Scandal. It follows Washington as Mia and Reese Witherspoon as Elena, two mothers with very different lives who clash in their seemingly progressive Ohio suburb. Washington says she tapped into a very vulnerable side for her role.

“We all took a lot of risks in revealing our inner lives to each other, our perspectives and our thoughts throughout the process,” she said. “Not only did that vulnerability require opening up; it demanded a certain level of willingness from everyone involved to admit what they didn’t know.”

Little Fires Everywhere premieres on March 18.

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