So This Is What Kerry Washington Is Doing Post Scandal

Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic.
While we were all adjusting to lives without Scandal following its series finale in April, Kerry Washington — who played Olivia Pope each week — was already busy with her next venture. It is, of all things, a teen drama that the beloved actress helped produce through her production company, Simpson Street. Five Points premiered its first three episodes Monday on Facebook Watch, the video platform where the social media giant is playing with original video series.
This isn’t Washington’s first rodeo on the production side. She produced several episodes of Scandal over the course of its six-year run, and Simpson Street was also behind HBO's 2016 Anita Hill biopic, Confirmation, in which she also starred. Now, she and her team explore one huge event in the lives of five students at a Southside Chicago high school. Each episode of Five Points focuses on a different character’s point of view. Think Dear White People, except shorter and more serious.
One of those characters is played by singer/actress/"lesbian Jesus" Hayley Kiyoko, who stars as a mysterious teen with a knack for music. Kiyoko had nothing but good things to say about working with Washington for the series. “We had a lot of meetings together, and she's such a kind and caring person and very specific with what she wants. It was really amazing to have her [as] a part of the show,” she told me.
I can also gush about Washington’s wit. When we spoke about Five Points, she shared the secret to her career success, how Scandal prepared her for her new endeavour and more. Here's what she had to say.
Refinery29: How did you get involved with the project?
Kerry Washington: "In a lot of ways, working on Five Points is a bit of a reunion for me. I'm working with the director who directed my very first studio feature, Thomas Carter. He directed Save the Last Dance, so I got to be back in high school with him; only this time I was behind the camera with him. So that was really wonderful. And then Rodrigo Garcia and John Asnet lead Indigenous Media, and I worked with Rodrigo on a film that I really love and am really proud to be a part of called Mother and Child. So I was working with filmmakers that I have history with and who I really love. I thought the material was so strong, so I leapt at the opportunity to be a part of it."
I'm from the Southside of Chicago. Is there a special connection or parallel between what's going on in the show and the narrative coming out of Chicago right now about young people, violence and corruption?
"I think you'll see when you watch it that there's a lot of issues in the show that are very relevant, very timely. These are conversations that we need to be having right now. I'm really proud to be a part of a project that can enlist an important dialogue around issues concerning gun safety, violence, self esteem, LGBTQ+ issues of inclusion, bullying. There are a lot of important topics to talk about."
Was there a specific reason that you were drawn to something that was directed at young people?
"I think I'm drawn to creating material that resonates with lots of different audiences. [Simpson Street has] various projects in development on the TV side, and series side, and theatre, [but] this is our first foray into short form. We didn't have something particular to this audience. For me, I'm drawn to a real diversification of the portfolio of what we're doing and how we're doing it at Simpson Street."
What was exciting about pursuing Facebook Watch as a platform?
"When we launched Scandal, there was a lot of talk about us only having a second season because of social media. It was a real grassroots effort on Facebook and Twitter that allowed us to survive, and then thrive as a show. We were the first show to live tweet in the way that we did and to really leverage social [media] in that capacity.We were able to build community around the show through social media. What would it be like to not only leverage social media to support content, but what would it be like to actually create content and have it live within that community? It's such a direct-to-viewer opportunity. I think that's really powerful because this is a show where we want people to have honest conversations about serious topics."
The way you really understand the business from a 360-degree angle, I really admire that, especially as a Black woman in the industry. Do you have something like a vision board or a five-year plan written down somewhere where you think about your goals?
"That's so kind of you to say. I think one of the things that I've worked really hard to do is to work with people who help to bring out the best in me... I try to spend my time with people that I respect and who inspire me to bring out the best in myself. But I also talk about this a lot, I'm going to be really honest: I think therapy is really important. I think for me, therapy has been a place not only where I've been able to grow emotionally and psychologically, but also grow myself professionally and artistically and creatively. As I deal with myself and who I am, I can be more honest about my intentions towards who I want to be. And that's in my personal relationships and in the way that I spend my days professionally."

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