Longevity in an acting career is a sign of real talent, creativity and excellence. Kerry Washington has come a long way! Having graced the silver screen in Ray, The Last King of Scotland and For Colored Girls, she has been making the TV world take notice season after season as fan-favorite Olivia Pope, a D.C.-based crisis management consultant on the hit ABC drama Scandal.
[SEE ALSO: Kerry Washington’s Best Hair Moments]
Just last week, Kerry and the cast celebrated the show’s 100th episode, saying she felt “euphoric, grateful, blessed,” for the season’s epic run. She is also making beauty history as the spokesperson and creative consultant for Neutrogena Cosmetics, which now boasts an inclusive shade range for women of color due to her input.
Here, contributor Allyson Leak Alexander chats with the beautiful star about her role, her style and her beauty secrets.
Hype Hair: How did you get started in the acting world?
Kerry Washington: Well, I was a latchkey kid and had two parents who worked full-time. So instead of having me come home every day and watch TV, my parents set me up in different community programs: gymnastics on Mondays or ballet class on Tuesdays and Thursdays or flamingo on Saturdays or the children’s theatre company. Acting was one of my afterschool hobbies, and as I got older, I developed more and more of an appreciation for it.
HH: In the beginning, why did you want to be involved with Scandal and play Olivia Pope?
KW: When I read the script, I was just completely blown away by the opportunity, by the writing—and I loved this world that I had never heard of before. I didn’t know anything about crisis management. I didn’t know it was this behind- the-scenes, high stakes world. So I was really intrigued by the setting of the show and also by the character and her complexities. To play a woman who is so completely in control of her life and her career but then in her personal life is so conflicted and torn and much more vulnerable…I loved the idea of playing someone like that.
HH: Do you have any favorite roles that you have done?
KW: I don’t really look at it that way. They’re kind of all children to me, so I don’t pick favorites—but each project is really special in its own way because I love my job so much and I really am so committed to it and passionate about it. So I have to give as much love to each opportunity as I can.
HH: You mentioned before that Scandal was a dream role for you. How so?
KW: I have just been so challenged by this role, in really wonderful ways.
HH: What are some of your favorite hairstyles to wear on the red carpet?
KW: You know, I like to change up my hair to match my mood. I like to be playful but always stay or choose looks that are authentic…I always want to look like myself. I get bored if I do the same thing for too long.
HH: Do you have any haircare recommendations?
KW: I really like Aveda’s Air control hairspray. And I am a big fan of Hairwise. I also take supplements, like calcium and fish oil, that really help with my hair and nails. If I’m not staying on top of my nutrition, it really shows up in my skin and hair, so I try to take care of myself in terms of eating.
HH: How would you describe your personal style?
KW: My personal style is really laid-back. I like to get dressed up for work or if I’m doing a red carpet, but in my own life, I’m a jeans-and- flip-flops girl.
HH: What are your style must-haves?
KW: I would say one of the fun things about summer is sunglasses. Great new shades are such a good way to make any outfit more chic.
HH: Who are some of your favorite designers?
KW: I really like that bold colors are back for summer. Michael Kors is always a great go-to—the brand has great vacation wear.
HH: You have such great skin. What’s your secret?
KW: I had eczema as a child, so I’ve always gone to the dermatologist. I try to take really good care of my skin. To me, every girl should have a dermatologist in her arsenal. I think it’s as important as having a great dentist.
A version of this article originally appeared in Hype Hair April/May 2017 issue.