Kerry Washington, Sarah Paulson on Social Media’s Trolls and Triumphs

Kerry Washington, Sarah Paulson Talk About
Jonathan Burton for Variety

Ask actors how they approach roles and they inevitably talk about working to be open and fully present in the moment. So for a craft that requires that kind of vulnerability, the Internet is probably more of a necessary evil than a requirement.

But many actresses say that wading through the negativity social media can bring is part of the job when it comes to promoting shows and characters that they love.

“It’s such a tricky balance, because I’m not a person who reads reviews, ever,” says “Scandal” star and live-tweeter Kerry Washington. “And yet I do have this very open exchange of ideas with our fan base. I don’t want a few negative opinions or ideas to negatively impact my ability to remain available and part of a community. So I’ve learned to read things and let them not impact me as much as they probably would’ve in my past.”

Washington also has a close friend who works as a social media consultant and convinced her about the value of Twitter. While working on President Obama’s re-election campaign, Washington realized that it was just as vital in TV as it is in politics. “This is a powerful way to create a movement from the roots up,” she says, giving a nod to “Scandal’s” tweeting Gladiators.

Although Lisa Kudrow live-tweets to promote “The Comeback” and “Web Therapy,” as well as her reality series “Who Do You Think You Are?,” she says she usually just pops in and right back out.

“I learned even when I was on ‘Friends’ to stay off the Internet,” Kudrow says. “No good can come from hearing what every single person has to say about you. But sometimes I can’t help it if I’m live-tweeting, I’ll see something negative. (It’s) just like what I had to do when I was learning how to audition and deal with the rejection. I can put it in that box. That’s not in the DNA of an actor; it’s an acquired coping mechanism.”

“American Horror Story” star Sarah Paulson admits that some of what she reads does “seep into my psyche,” but it doesn’t affect her performance.

“There is a reality to the fact that we have filmed a lot of it by the time they’re having an immediate fan reaction, so I’m way further along in the story,” Paulson says. “But I certainly am aware of it. If it’s a particular episode that I feel protective over, I will sometimes avoid Twitter because it feels too delicate a thing. Now everything’s dissected as it’s happening, and I think it’s hard to not take those things personally.”

Abigail Spencer, who plays Amantha on “Rectify,” says she takes long breaks from social media when she’s preparing for parts.

“I just don’t think that the constant injection of everything that’s going on in the world at every single second is good for the soul,” she says. “This has to be affecting me on some level, conscious or not, and how can you be pure in your endeavor? How can you think clearly with so much of an invasion?”

“Mad Men” star Elisabeth Moss doesn’t tweet — “I like privacy,” she says — but she just recently opened an official Instagram account.

“That’s my first foray,” Moss says. “It’s been really nice to hear people say that they loved Peggy, that they love ‘Mad Men.’ I prefer Instagram because I don’t have to worry too much about what I say. I just don’t think that I have anything that witty or interesting to say.”