LOS ANGELES -- “Scandal” creator Shonda Rhimes didn’t know that star Kerry Washington had another baby on the way when a less-is-more plan was put in place for season six of the political thriller.
The ABC series will have just 16 episodes next season. And fans will have to wait until January to see how the show’s many cliffhangers play out.
Rhimes “knows what the story is,” Washington said recently when she sat down with The Associated Press. “She knows about how many episodes she needs left to get there. And that was her decision.”
It was only a couple weeks after Rhimes’ announcement about the new “Scandal” game plan that Washington told her boss that she and her husband, former NFL star and current film actor and producer, Nnamdi Asomugha, were expecting again. They have a 2-year-old daughter, Isabelle Amarachi Asomugha.
Washington, 39, smiles and jokingly denies she’s carrying a second child. She pats her baby bump, laughs and says she’d merely eaten too much for lunch.
So, how is having a second child different from having the first? “Every day is different,” she says. “And, for me, definitely these two pregnancies have been very different.”
When asked how each pregnancy has been unique, she veers away from the subject. Kerry Washington is not one to talk publicly about her personal life.
For the last three years, Washington has been an ambassador for the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse campaign, which raises money to benefit nearly 200 domestic-violence nonprofits worldwide.
What’s new for 2016 is that fashion industry heavy-hitters - including Tory Burch and Christian Louboutin - are joining Washington, with each designing limited-edition purple purses to be auctioned off for the cause.
The auctions are set to take place in October. They will be followed by a retail bag sometime this fall, and there will be a monthlong daily handbag giveaway to contributors to the Purple Purse Challenge. The 2015 campaign raised more than $3 million, and a spokesperson for the Allstate Foundation says the charity is aiming to best that with the 2016 campaign.
Washington says purses also will be given to charities to use for their own fundraising.
Purple is the color for domestic-violence awareness. The purse represents freedom from financial abuse, a tactic frequently used to trap victims in the relationships.
Washington recalls a recent encounter an abuse victim, “A woman came up to me, in a room full of people (and said), ‘I just want you to know, that when I left, I wore purple for an entire year,’” Washington says. “I knew what that meant and she knew what that meant. And it was the power of this metaphor: That she didn’t need to give me details about her black eyes. She didn’t have to give me details about her destroyed credit, or her empty bank account, or the mode of transportation that was taken from her. She could just say to me, ‘I wore purple.’”
The Purple Purse campaign comes at a particularly busy time for Washington. In July, she returned to work on “Scandal,” in which she plays Olivia Pope, a fictional fixer for Washington’s elite. The actress also has been navigating Emmy season. She has two nominations for the TV movie “Confirmation,” which centers on the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Clarence Thomas (played by Wendell Pierce) and allegations he sexually harassed one of his employees, Anita Hill (played by Washington).
Washington is nominated for her performance, as well as for serving as one of the movie’s executive producers.
“I think the thing that most surprised me about producing is that it kind of brings out my own inner Olivia Pope, ironically,” Washington says. “I love producing because it allows me to play other characters in other worlds in other situations. But that part of me, that part of Kerry that likes to be a fixer and a helper and solve problems, is really able to play. I’m not exactly wearing a white suit or a white hat or carrying Prada. I usually have on sneakers and jeans and a baseball cap. But I still have a little Olivia Pope with me when I’m producing.”