PaleyFest: Scandal Cast and Creators Talk Shonda Rhimes, Politics and Character Transformations

Bellamy Young and Kerry Washington

There was much to be discussed at the Dolby Theater Tuesday night, as the cast and creators were on hand to talk about Scandal at PaleyFest. Check out some of the highlights below.


On Shonda Rhimes:

When it comes to TV showrunners, fewer names are more well known that Shonda Rhimes. And with good reason, as she has paved quite the path of addictive, encompassing shows on TV. At PaleyFest this week, Shoda was on the panel for Scandal to talk about the show.

When Shonda was asked what inspires her writing, she replied that it’s everything. It’s the people you work with, a phrase you hear in the elevator, a song you hear on the radio. Everything. She draws inspiration from life. When asked where she comes up with the material you see on the show, she replied, “the very twisted, twisted, dark writer’s room.”


Shonda tends to follow the script, as opposed to a more improv-style of filmmaking, and explains how she makes a pact with the actors that their job is to read the words she writes, but it’s not her job to interpret how they should read it. And Shonda loves seeing how they interpret the words. She also talked about the importance of pauses and the how it becomes about what you’re not saying. Acting isn’t just about what you say, it’s about all the other stuff too.

On the importance of education, Shonda says she loves school, and would be in school now if she thought she could get away with it. But she credits the huge changes in technology for making school optional in this business, and talks about how you don’t need school to make a film or write. However, she recognizes that school might give you access… especially if you’re not a straight white man. She explains, “We live in a world where you can make films on iPhones, for no money. Always disposable. It’s beautiful.”


Tony Goldwyn, Bellamy Young and Kerry Washington

On politics:

Politics are – very understandably – at the center of media attention in America right now. This will also come into play on the show, as they are drawing some inspiration from the very bizarre (to put it mildly) state of our country’s politics. Kerry Washington says, “if you think the debates in the real world are fun…” teasing that the upcoming debates on the show will be crazy.

When Shonda was asked her thoughts on the election, she hesitated before saying that it was a scary time and “you can’t make that stuff up.” She also revealed that because of what’s been happening in some of the debates, they have gone back to the writing table and revised some things as a result.

Scott Foley was directing the day Hillary Clinton came and visited set. He didn’t know that she was coming, and to describe him talking about her entrance would not do this story justice. Because it was hysterical. It ends with Hillary coming and sitting behind him, and he had to call action and had to keep going, even though he’d lost all ability to concentrate.


PaleyFest 2016 Scandal, Inside, Los Angeles, U.S. 15 March 2016

On character transformations:  

The audience was treated to an upcoming episode of the show, and without giving too much away, I will say you will be seeing quite a new transformation in Abby. You can forget about the Abby you’ve known until this point, as there’s a new Abby in town now. Whether that’s for good or bad remains to be seen, but it will sure be fun to watch!

There’s a pivotal moment where this transformation begins, and Darby Stanchfield said she had a slight melt down before filming that scene. She said it felt good, but she was scared. It’s about her being competitive, and she both wants and is afraid of going after what she wants (power). There’s an internal struggle of – do you want power or do you want to be a good person? She’s not sure she’s ready to be a monster but she also craves the power.

Kerry says the winter finale was hard for all of the characters. The question of how the show will end seems foreign to her. Never has something happened that she wanted, it’s always what Olivia has happen to her. She wants her to be happy and whole but doesn’t have an attachment to what it looks like. She has a lot of work to do on herself.

Shonda also didn’t want to dive into if Olivia would find love in the end, instead stating for her this show has always been about Olivia’s personal journey… Happy endings come in many different forms.