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  • broaden the spectrum of whose stories we deem to have value: “We’re looking to do diverse work that brings more and more people to the table – anyone whose voice is underrepresented. We’re trying to carve out a space for them at the table of empowered storytelling.” She will act in about
    a third of those stories, she says, but all of them will be shaped by her hands-on input.

    The actress knows, like few
    others of her generation, that to carve out one space can mean opening up a whole palace. When Scandal debuted in 2012, she was the lone black actress anchoring a network drama. “I was exhausted from doing interviews about being the first black woman on Tv [in a dramatic series lead] in 40 years,” 

    “I can be Covered in spit-up on a call and that’s Ok. It may not be somebody else’s, but this is my Perfect

    Growing up in a house where
    she watched her parents debate Hill vs. Thomas, Washington doesn’t shy away from infusing her work with politics – or getting out on the streets to defend democracy, as she did for the Women’s March this year. “The power is ours, we just forget it sometimes,” she says today. Like the morning after Donald Trump was elected president and Olivia Pope was trending on Twitter.

    “Millions of people were like, ‘We need Olivia Pope to fix this.’ On one hand, I was incredibly honored – ‘Oh, look, we’re part of the zeitgeist’ – but I was also a bit infuriated, because I was like, ‘No, this is your country. You’re the Olivia Pope of your own life; this is your democracy. I can’t fix this.’”

    she says, laughing, “and now it’s not even a thing. This is just what Tv looks like; it looks like all of us.
    That isn’t to say that black women
    are all of us – I mean, now Priyanka Chopra has a show [Quantico] and there’s [Asian-American comedy] Fresh Off the Boat. It really is
    becoming more inclusive.”

    Dress by Magda Butrym


    Words: Emma Sells. Fashion: Jessica Steuart. Photograph: Bruce Anderson

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