Each week Kerry Washington breathes life into Scandal’s Olivia Pope. But while there are certainly similarities between the actress and the iconic character she portrays, as Washington reveals, they are way more different than we imagine.

Here, ESSENCE’s November cover star shares what sets her apart from Olivia.

OLIVIA: She travels regularly to Europe.
KERRY: I like to go to new places all the time. I’ve lived in Kuala Lumpur. I’ve traveled all around South Asia, where I learned the importance of spirituality. I grew up in a world where there’s a liquor store on every corner, but in India there’s a temple on every corner, and people stop their day constantly to pray. It’s really special.

OLIVIA: She has three modes: Work Olivia, Black-Tie Gala Olivia and At Home Olivia. And her designers are Armani, Escada, Dior, Max Mara, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci.
KERRY: My fashion is more eclectic: There’s Going to Work Kerry, which is gym clothes and Nike kicks. That’s the Bronx girl. There’s also Red Carpet Kerry and Out to Dinner With Friends Kerry. I tend to be a little more MiH jeans, Derek Lam and Jason Wu.

OLIVIA: A girls’ night out would be a one-on-one with a woman in her life. It would involve a lot of wine.
KERRY: I drink, like, maybe twice a year. I would be with my three best friends from high school or my girlfriends from the show.

OLIVIA: She is decidedly apolitical. I think she has a strong moral compass that gets confused. She believes in principle above politics.
KERRY: My politics are centered around arts education and advocacy. I’ve met with members of Congress or begged for money from the National Endowment for the Arts. But I’m also decidedly a Democrat.

OLIVIA: She believes in the goodness of people and she strives for it in herself. She believes in redemption, clearly. She may or may not have been raised in the church. I think we’ll find out.
KERRY: I don’t belong to a church, but I live-stream Joel Osteen or watch Super Soul Sunday [on OWN]. I go to church in my own way, and I wear my cross and I have a relationship with God and with Christ. My faith is important to me.

OLIVIA: Her dream car is probably a badass SUV.
KERRY: I’m just not a car person—maybe because I grew up in New York City. I really do want a bicycle.

OLIVIA: She’s a classic R&B kind of girl, more Earth, Wind & Fire.
KERRY: I’m more of a pop culture girl. I’ll definitely dance to any Rihanna, and those Jay Z collabos get me on the floor very quickly.

Denene Millner (@mybrownbaby) is the founder and editor of mybrownbaby.com. She profiled Serena Williams last July.

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