Kerry Washington is gracing the cover of the latest issue of Vanity Fair.
The actress, wearing a white swimsuit and red lipstick, posed for the magazine's August 2013 issue. Inside its pages, she talks about playing fixer Olivia Pope on the hit ABC series "Scandal."
"One of the most profound things for me about the show is the number of white women of all ages who come up to me and say, 'I want to be Olivia Pope,'" she said of the show's success.
"It's especially profound in a place like South Africa," she continued. "It's called 'The Fixer' over there, and it just started its second season. The fact that white women can see this woman of color as an aspirational character is revolutionary, I think, in the medium of television. I don't think white women would feel that way about Olivia if her identity as a woman, period, wasn't first in their mind."
Washington, 36, sees her character's role as a fixer as an inherently feminine one. "What I think is cool about Olivia is that she fully owns being a woman," she said. "There's a very nurturing sense of 'I'm going to take care of you -- don't worry about it. I'm gonna be your mom in this situation. You come stay in my office, have a cup of tea, and let my gladiators take care of you.' There's something very maternal about it. But there's also something very executive about her, and I mean 'executive' in a presidential way."
She also revealed that playing Olivia involves a bit of homework, including reading Jeffrey Toobin's book "The Nine" to better understand the workings of the Supreme Court and regular phone conferences with Judy Smith, the real-life Washington crisis-management expert upon whom Olivia Pope is loosely based.
"Scandal" showrunner Shonda Rimes also shared some words of praise with the magazine about her leading lady.
"I have never heard Kerry Washington complain," Rhimes said. "That sounds like a casual thing to toss off, but think about the fact that she works more hours than anybody. I literally never hear her complain. That is a very rare breed of person."
The August issue of Vanity Fair hits newsstands everywhere Aug. 9.