ABC and Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes are putting quite a bit of faith in Kerry Washington. Expectations are high for tonight's premiere of Rhimes' new series Scandal (10/9c), which features Washington in a role inspired by real-life crisis management adviser Judy Smith.
On its face, there's nothing so unusual about an actress in a role based on a high-profile personality. What's unique about this show, however - and certainly unique in the network television landscape - is that Washington will lead a primetime drama created by an African American woman that's based on a high-profile personality who also happens to be an African American woman.
Casting Kerry was interesting," Rhimes explained, "because I was very aware of the fact that we were doing a show that had an African American female lead, and that that doesn't happen very often on network television. The minute the camera went on and she started reading those words I thought, well, there she is.
Scandal stars Washington as Olivia Pope, a shrewd, take-no-prisoners crisis manager who was a former White House communications director and "has dedicated her life to protecting and defending the public images of the nation's elite and keeping those secrets under wraps." Working with a team that seems to be able to resolve complex issues for clients but comes up short in their own, Olivia is also looking for a fresh start but can't seem to put her past totally behind her.
Washington, whose most recent role was as Eddie Murphy's wife in the film A Thousand Words, told Essence magazine in March that television wasn't something she was particularly keen on doing primarily because of "its heavy time commitment," but once she read the script it was a wrap.
I was floored by the outpouring of love from people who were excited that the show would even exist," Washington told the magazine, "and that we as a community would get to see ourselves in every home in America as accomplished, smart, empowered, sophisticated, vulnerable women.
Up next for Washington is a role in another highly anticipated project starring her Ray co-star Jamie Foxx in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained.
Will you be watching? Let me know in the Comments Section or hit me at email@example.com.