Scandal Exclusive: Kerry Washington Enters Shondaland, Speaks on Judy Smith

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Last week's premiere of Scandal introduced viewers to the world of crisis management, as seen through the eyes of super producer Shonda Rhimes and star Kerry Washington.

But the visions of these women were actually shaped by real-life crisis manager Judy Smith, someone I asked Washington about on a phone call not long after the pilot aired.

Olivia Pope Photo

The actress is no stranger to portraying characters based on real people and said that she "loves to do the research" involved in roles such as this. In fact, Washington said, "Judy may have been shocked at the depth of [her] research" in becoming Olivia Pope.

Prior to reading the first script, Washington was "not at all familiar" with the world of crisis management.

"You know there are publicists, but not crisis managers. Crisis management isn't about publicity," she explained.

Smith, who is a producer on Scandal, has been "very generous with helping [the cast] in understanding that world and that responsibility," said Washington. "The Internet has changed how quickly stories break. Instead of a story breaking in the morning, it could break in the next five minutes."

The speed at which Olivia Pope and Associates must move to protect their clients is where Rhimes and her love of fast-paced narrative comes into play. For some scenes, Washington related that stopwatches were used to ensure that lines were delivered in the tight way that already has some viewers talking. (For a look at this dialogue, check out the Scandal quotes page.)

"I was thrilled at the prospect of working with Shonda," Washington said. "We're so lucky to be following the tradition of Shonda Rhimes."

What does she love most about Rhimes' other works? The self-proclaimed fan said that ShondaLand programs are "shows about strong personalities and smart people. Shonda tells stories in an inclusive way." This, Washington believes, makes it easy for viewers to relate.

And what can viewers expect from upcoming episode?, Washington teased that by the end of the season "no one is who you think they are. Everybody has secrets."

I, for one, can't wait to find out what those secrets might be.

Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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I love this show but Kerry Washington talks so fast I can't keep up with what she is saying...closed captain doesn't help because it is slower than her speech... This is driving me nuts.

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I usually don't have time for TV. Scandal is now my favorite show on the planet!!! Kerry Washington is gorgeous!!!

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Scandal is a good television show. Kerry Washington is hot as heck. How can anyone not keep their eye tuned in. Great show.

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ABC TV GOT IT RIGHT! SCANDLE from what I could tell is going to be a good show to watch. Some people love to hate on Shonda Rhimes and about the realitiy of the politicans today. Well Politicans have been - sceaming and scamming and sexing women who are not their wives from Abraham Lincoln's time. It was know back then as SCANDLE. So "write on" Shonda. SCANDLE has my vote. If you don't like show just turn the damn channel and watch something else.
The beauty of television is just so lovely.

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ABC will most certainly destroy their glowing drama series lineup with this exploitative and degrading show 'Scandal'. The main character of Olivia Pope is so absurd it is embarrassing to watch, makes ya' wonder… is the real person just as self-righteous as the actress' screwball portrayal? The uber-liberal political agenda in this show is just as transparent as the trashy premise. We barely endured sitting through the ridiculously idiotic dialogue in the pilot episode and totally deleted it from our Tivo. We're done watching this sickening election year garbage!

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Although I was slighly nauseated by all the pre-hype about this show, I decided to give it a chance and tuned it. I made it through 15 minutes and literally could not stand to watch any more of it. The acting was so melodramatic and the premise that their was this super team lead by someone who is worshiped like some diety because she is so good at finding a way to cover up the rotten behavior of others, especially politicians, was truly disgusting. We are at a crossroads in this country. The people are really getting fed up with elected officials abusing their powers and setting poor examples. Now we are supposed to set back and watch a television show that virtually celebrates or at least glorifies one of the worst characteristics of our society. This is all typical Shonda Rhimes who has an ego bigger than all the other TV producers put together. Lat year she pulled that stunt with replacing an episode of one of her other shows at the last minute, Private Practice, with one of her new series' episodes - Off the Map, I think it was called. The response was not good. Viewers felt like they had been ambushed by Rhimes and practically boycotted her new show. Now comes Scandal, with an "in-the-sewer" type premise if there ever was one and ads for weeks before the first episode aired telling us how it is by far the best program on TV, maybe in the history of television! Sorry, Shonda. I was not impressed. You have actually made a couple of shows I like for the most part - Gray's Anatomy and Private Practice, even though trying to figure who has slept with who on those shows is like trying to redesign the LA freeway system.At least you drawn the line (so far) at incest. But I think you have let success go to your head and now you believe you can manipulate fans to watch whatever you want them to watch. You're wrong.

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You had me at Columbus Short.