Bellamy Young: From would-be physicist to 'Scandal's' First Lady

bellamy-young-nov-2012-gi.jpgWhen Bellamy Young was on Broadway, her mother attended 17 times. Young, who has more of a Southern drawl than her character, first lady Mellie Grant on ABC's Thursday drama, "Scandal," explains.

"It wasn't even to watch the whole show," she tells Zap2it. "She would listen to people talk about her daughter."

Her mom didn't push her on the stage but created a routine for Young's debut, at age 5, for a youth jamboree. She sang a Shirley Temple song.

"I started singing when I was about 3 and dancing soon after," Young says. "Mom just started looking for outlets where I could perform and availed herself of any opportunity she could in the mountains of North Carolina in the '70s."

Much as she loved singing, Young wanted to be a physicist. She was shocked when Yale accepted her.

"I thought they were just being polite," she recalls of being accepted into the Ivy League. "I thought they would tell me no, so I applied to 12 other places. I thought I could sing there. I wanted to major in physics, and thought I could sing on the side. I wasn't so good at physics -- if only."

Instead she double-majored in English and theater and sang in the school a cappella group. A semester at Oxford followed before doing theater in New York. Since, Young has been a steady TV presence. This character, Mellie, Young says, "is an incredibly formidable woman" in a nuanced relationship, which happens to be with the president.

"She is so smart," Young, 42, says. "The scripts we get, the dialogue is so strong and real. Every time I yell at him, people know why I am yelling. I get to be a brilliant, driven, loyal, loving woman in extreme pain every week. What more could you ask for?"

Home: "In heart? Asheville (N.C.), the mountains," Young says. "But I feel, even when they are not with me, the geography of the mountains informs who I am and where I live. My head is always in New York, and my inspiration. Walking down the street in New York, you learn so much about yourself and about the world."

Credits: "Criminal Minds," "Scrubs," "Dirty Sexy Money," "CSI: Miami," "American Dreams"

Hobbies: "The upside of it being the same beautiful day over here [in Los Angeles] is I am a big hiker, walker and do yoga. I am a fosterer of animals."

Favorite movies: " 'Notorious,' and it makes me weak! 'Notorious' is a masterwork. I can watch it every day. 'It's a Wonderful Life.' You watch it when it comes on because that movie is genius. I wish everyone sat down and watched it once a year; it would be a better world."

Favorite books: " 'A Prayer for Owen Meany,' 'The Hotel New Hampshire' and anything science. Michio Kaku, Brian Greene, that calms my mind."

Favorite music: "It's according to mood. Fleetwood Mac's 'Greatest Hits,' because that was a happy, happy album. Joni Mitchell's 'Blue,' a sad, sad album, so that needs to be there. Jeff Buckley's 'Grace' is beautiful. Tom Waits' 'Closing Time' and Billy Joel's 'Songs in the Attic.' "
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images
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