Even after Scandal, Kerri Washington’s breakout show, has finished its sophomore season, Kerri Washington’s star power just keeps on growing. Case in point: Washington’s brand new Vanity Fair cover, for the magazine’s August issue. But, as usual, it’s what’s on the inside that counts and Washington’s cover story reveals a lot about her character – Washington “fixer” Olivia Pope – and about the actress herself. Washington sees her role as revolutionary – revolutionary for women overall, but especially for women of color.

Kerry Washington, ABC Upfront Party
Washington takes pride in her role.

“It’s especially profound in a place like South Africa,” she explains about the effect her character has on women, watching the show. “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.”

Kerry Washington, CFDA Awards
But she doesn't want to be confused with her character.

However, as admirable as Olivia Pope might be, Washington is keen on maintaining some distance between herself and the role. In the interview, she asserts that the two differ in a number of ways. “I have to learn things to be her all the time.” Her background preparation includes some student-like cramming—for example, going throught Jeffrey Toobin’s The Nine to better understand Supreme Court machinations—and regular guidance from Judy Smith, the real-life D.C. crisis-management expert upon whom Olivia is loosely based. Still, it all seems to be worth it, because Scandal, whose viewership has skyrocketed over the second season, can largely be considered as the show that put Washington on the map. Her Vanity Fair issue will be out in newsstands on July 9th.

Kerry Washington, Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon
Washington is proud to portray a role model for women.