'Scandal's' Kerry Washington a political animal by nature

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Being a political animal by nature is helping Kerry Washington in her starring television series debut.

Known for such movies as "Ray," the Oscar-winning "The Last King of Scotland" and the current "A Thousand Words," the actress plays a professional "fixer" on ABC's "Scandal." Premiering Thursday, April 5, the drama is the latest project of "Grey's Anatomy" mentor Shonda Rhimes, who based the central character on crisis-management consultant Judy Smith ... earlier an aide to President George H.W. Bush.

Politically active herself, as she was during then-Sen. Barack Obama's bid for the White House, Washington deems it "very exciting" to play someone as powerful in her own way as the president (portrayed in "Scandal" by actor-director Tony Goldwyn). "I love my job, and I'm so grateful that I'm getting to do it with people at the level they're at. I feel like the luckiest broad in showbiz."

By the end of the first hour of "Scandal," Washington's sharklike alter ego, Olivia Pope, is dented by disillusionment. "One of Shonda Rhimes' gifts is that she understands the complexity of human beings," Washington tells Zap2it, "and she's not afraid to embrace that complexity. So much of our jobs as actors is working to make characters three-dimensional, but with Shonda, it's there."

In playing someone who can get away with the line, "Tell the president I'm busy," Washington admits "it's really fun to play somebody who's so strong, she wouldn't have time for the president of the United States, yet you dig a little deeper and you see that it actually comes from a vulnerable place."

Birth date: Jan. 31, 1977

Birthplace: Bronx, N.Y.

Current residence: Los Angeles

Family info: Single

Other television credits: "Boston Legal," "Black Panther" (voice only), "Psych," "Strip Search," "The Guardian," "100 Centre Street," "Law & Order," "Deadline," "NYPD Blue," "Magical Make-Over" (ABC Afterschool Special)

Movie credits include: "A Thousand Words," "For Colored Girls," "Mother and Child," "Life Is Hot in Cracktown," "Lakeview Terrace," "Miracle at St. Anna," "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," "I Think I Love My Wife," "The Last King of Scotland," "Fantastic Four," "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," "Ray," "She Hate Me," "Bad Company," "Save the Last Dance"
Photo/Video credit: NewsCom
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