by Deborah Harter Williams
In cased you somehow missed Scandal, it’s twisty and dark and set in Washington, D.C. The drama orbits around Olivia Pope, political fixer and campaign strategist. Her “gladiators in suits” are extremely loyal to her, as she has rescued each of them at one point from a personal crisis. Oh and by the way, she’s having an affair with the President.
The series is partially based on the life of Judy Smith who worked for G.H.W. Bush guiding the administration through Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court nomination, the 1991 Gulf War and fall-out from Iran-Contra. Later her crisis management firm advised Monica Lewinsky and Michael Vick. She is co-executive producer and technical consultant to the show.
Kerry Washington – Olivia Pope
Nominated as Lead Actress in a Dramatic Series
Washington commands the role of Olivia – beautiful, steely and intelligent with the right touch of humor, sexuality and vulnerability. She is the first African American actress to play the lead protagonist in a network drama since 1974’s Get Christie Love! Show creator Shonda Rhimes will double that statistic with her new fall show How to Get Away with Murder featuring Viola Davis.
Olivia’s state of mind is echoed by her wardrobe, which has become the subject of ongoing analysis by fashionistas as well as viewers (Oliviapopestyle.com). It is said that when Olivia Pope wears white she is on the side of the angels. Other colors signal the conflicts and complications of trying to be the “white hat.”
Playing a smart woman comes naturally for Washington, who graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from George Washington University. Her film career launched in 2001 with Save the Last Dance and she has played wife to Ray Charles in the biopic starring Jamie Foxx, and to Forrest Whitaker’s Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.
Joe Morton – Rowan/Elijah Pope
Nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Dramatic Series
Is he a Curator of Antiquities for the Smithsonian? A betrayed and grieving husband? Or a ruthless leader in charge of the murkiest of national secrets and security? Eli Pope aka Rowan is the embodiment of secrecy. Often shot in the shadows, viewers didn’t know he was Olivia’s father until the end of the second episode season. Everything his character says or does may be interpreted in several ways. This makes for fertile ground for actor Joe Morton. He is completely believable as a loving but misunderstood father, alternately cajoling, blackmailing to either save or subjugate his daughter.
Over his career Morton has played a range of roles from the alien in Brother From Another Planet to doctors on soap operas (Search for Tomorrow, All My Children) as well as son-in-law to Grady on the Sanford and Son spin-off. He is one of those actors that you don’t recognize at first because he disappears into his roles. This makes him perfect for the part and well worthy of the nomination. Perhaps being the son of a U.S. Army intelligence officer helps too.
Kate Burton – Vice President Sally Langston
Nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Dramatic Series
Burton’s character is driven and righteous with Southern charm. Watching her fight with her husband, going from hurt to fury in a few short steps was to witness a tour de force. Burton delivers a complex character while keeping histrionics in check until they burst out of her. A sweet but rueful smile covers her hunger for power, backed by unbridled religious fervor, which ironically makes her susceptible to manipulation.
Daughter of actor Richard Burton, surely she had no choice but to act, though she has a degree in Russian Studies. With a strong theater background and Tony nominations, she also has multiple feature film credits and a slew of recurring TV characters that have graced Judging Amy, The West Wing and The Medium. With Rhimes, she created the role of Ellis Grey, legendary surgeon and mother of the lead character on Grey’s Anatomy.
Stiff competition is challenging Washington and Morton as they are up against actors/actresses from such series as Masters of Sex, Downton Abbey, The Good Wife and House of Cards. Burton may face the most daunting slate in a category that includes Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones, Allison Janney, Masters of Sex and?Jane Fonda, The Newsroom. Glorious to see many great actresses working on television. ?The real winners are the viewers.
Shonda Rhimes creates the stories and scripts that make these characters possible. From early work on Britney Spears Crossroads and Princess Diaries 2 she has crafted the way for award-winners.
Check out the Emmy Awards on Monday night and see if Scandal brings home the awards-learn more on their website.
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