Kerry Washington is set to make history with her new ABC series Scandal.
Okay, I have a confession: Although I’m thoroughly ashamed of myself, I am woman enough to admit that I’m a bit behind on my television viewing. Also, my DVR listings usually hover around the 97 percent-full mark, which stresses me out every time I reach for the remote. It’s a vicious cycle, I know, but I’m making a conscious effort to do better — starting with tonight’s premiere episode of Scandal (airing on ABC at 10 p.m.).
By now, everybody’s seen those ads featuring Kerry Washington, serving face and looking very ready to take primetime by storm. Full disclosure: I caught an extended clip of the show, and let’s just say that she means business. She’s about to bring the drama beyond its boiling point and I cannot wait. Actually, I wish I could just fast-forward through this day to get to 10 o’ clock.
I’ve been a fan of Kerry’s since the very beginning. I distinctly remember seeing her in the 2000 indie flick Our Song and thinking, That girl is going to be a contender. Since then, she’s continued to rise to the occasion, again and again. I look forward to watching her morph into D.C.-based crisis manager Olivia Pope, a woman of killer style and instincts who, seemingly, has some hefty skeletons tucked in the back of her closet. Just the thought of all the twisted webs of political deceit that will be untangled is enough to keep me tuning in every Thursday night.
Kerry’s portrayal of this character, on this show, is groundbreaking for a couple of reasons. Not only is she following in the footsteps of Diahann Carroll – who, in 1968, became the first Black actress to lead a network series with Julia – but she’s also adding a new dimension to the way Black women are perceived on television. Though Olivia is far from perfect, she is the focal point of the show, which means that audiences will have the opportunity to experience the full spectrum of her story. How refreshing. The fact that another Black woman, Shonda Rhimes (of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice fame), is on board as creator and executive producer is the icing on the cake.
All that said, this shall be a historic night of television, one that is worthy of our full attention. And just like Santa Claus, the "TV ratings Gods" always seem to know what we’re up to, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that folks will tune in live and give their DVRs the night off. Oh, and in case you haven’t heard, tonight’s episode is titled “Sweet Baby,” which sounds delightfully wicked, in every way. I am so there...and yes, I’ll be watching, in real time!
Regina R. Robertson is the West Coast Editor for ESSENCE. Follow her on Twitter @reginarobertson.