Before Kerry Washington landed the lead role on Shonda Rhimes’ “Scandal,” the actress says her life wasn’t in a great place. Personally and professionally, Washington knew she needed to make some changes and, as she tells Oprah during a conversation for “SuperSoul Sessions,” she knew it would take a lot to re-shape her life and take back control.
“There was a lot of toxicity in my life — people I needed to let go of in a personal way, in a business way,” she says. “And, also, I felt like I had been living my career kind of on auto-pilot.”
There was only one way to turn things around.
“There was a period before ‘Scandal’ when I went into the wilderness,” Washington says. “I took a break and did a Broadway play. I went back to my roots as an artist.”
I just wanted to, in a monk-like way, commit to that ritual and let it teach me about myself and let myself unfold.
“‘Going into the wilderness’ really meant stripping myself of a lot of unnecessary weight in my life,” Washington explains. “The ritual of doing theater, I thought of it as going into a monastery, because you do the same thing eight times a week, in the same place, you say the same words with the same props. It is a ritual that you commit to. I just wanted to, in a monk-like way, commit to that ritual and let it teach me about myself and let myself unfold.”
Through that process, Washington says she was able to shed much of the toxicity — though it wasn’t without its difficulties.
“I let go of a lot of people and a lot of things. I experienced a lot of loss, professionally,” she says. “I had, for example, companies that I was working with on an endorsement level that walked away from me because … not everybody thinks Broadway is ‘sexy.’”
On a personal level, a new life began to take shape as well.
“My personal life changed a great deal,” says Washington, who married Nnamdi Asomugha in 2013 and is now expecting her second child. “I allowed myself to be open to change… I don’t talk about my personal life very often, but that’s true.”
Ultimately, all of these changes helped Washington find her path and find success on the acclaimed television show for which is she’s known.
“Going into the wilderness made me ready — as an artist, as a person, as a businesswoman — to receive ‘Scandal,’” she says.