TV mogul and all-around inspirational role model Shonda Rhimes has made it clear that Scandal season 6 wasn't inspired by the real-life election, but that doesn't mean the show's star is keeping her thoughts on the outcome to herself. Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope may be able to fix any political disaster thrown her way on the ABC series, but in real life, Washington is in the same boat as the rest of us when it comes to dealing with the aftermath of the election and the current tumultuous political landscape.
However, Washington isn't giving up hope when it comes to our country's future as President-Elect Donald Trump gears up for his inauguration. In fact, after her 2017 Winter Television Critics Association press tour panel for Scandal concluded in Pasadena early Tuesday morning, she revealed to Bustle along with a small group of reporters that she still remains optimistic about the future for a very specific reason.
"I think what I'm hopeful about is that it seems like this is an opportunity for more people to become aware and galvanized," Washington says, crossing her arms while speaking to the small circle of journalists around her. "It's just a really important time for people to participate in our democracy and that's the design of democracy. Democracy only works when everybody shows up and in the last election, over half of the population did not show up. I just hope that more and more of us are inspired to participate."
And the Scandal star practices what she preaches, adding that she plans to take "a ton" of actions moving forward to fight for what's right regardless of who is in office.
"I was in the Obama administration. I'm very proud to have served in that administration," Washington says. "That came out of a lifetime of political work, political advocacy. So I'll continue to do that. Whether it comes to calling my representatives to say, 'I don't think that Jeff Sessions is an appropriate Attorney General,' to volunteering with a local community center, I think we have to participate across the board. I will continue to show up and try to do my part."
Washington also made sure she made it clear that Donald Trump's election does not represent the will of the people.
"I think we have to be careful by saying that the results of this election represent a majority of the sentiment of the country, because half of the country didn't vote, and half of who voted, not even, the popular vote went to Hillary [Clinton]," Washington says. "We're talking about less than a quarter of the country voted for our next president."
She pauses, and then adds, "And I also think it's important to say that inclusivity is not about just people of color and women. Inclusivity is about everybody having a seat at the table. It doesn't mean keeping white people out or men have no voice. Inclusivity means everybody should have a voice at the table."
Looking at the current awards season, the diversity and inclusivity in the nominees and winners signaled a shift in pop culture to some, but according to Washington, it's only just one step in the right direction.
"It will take some time to see what the landscape looks like in a few years," Washington says. "I don't think we can say with one year of having many nominees of color or more women that the problem is fixed. I think it takes long-term analysis."
One of the highlights of the most recent awards show — Sunday's Golden Globes — was Meryl Streep's moving acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award in which she passionately took Trump to task for his behavior and urged everyone to practice empathy. The speech was full of class and has been praised by everyone but Trump since it aired over the weekend. And in one cutaway shot during Streep's speech, Washington was seen visibly holding back tears.
"It was very special," Washington says of watching Streep's groundbreaking speech in person. "I felt like it was such a brave, beautiful speech. It was so graceful. There was no name-calling. There wasn't any name-calling but there was a lot of truth-telling. I thought it was a beautiful and important speech."
Olivia Pope would most definitely approve.