Kerry Washington, ‘Scandal’ Cast Reflect on Finale and Shondaland’s Legacy

With the sixth season of “Scandal” wrapped, the stars of the show were ready to celebrate on Thursday night at New York’s Paley Center for Media with a viewing party and live panel with fans.

There’s been plenty of “Scandal” milestones to toast this season, with the 100th episode running in April and the announcement earlier this week that Season 7 with also be the final for the ABC hit.

“I feel really grateful for our run and to have next season. You know, I really don’t want to be out of a job,” said Kerry Washington, who plays lead Olivia Pope. “But we’re going to give it our all.”

The runaway hit for ABC and creator Shonda Rhimes first debuted back in 2012 and has since become a cultural touchstone, reflecting on politics, power, and gender, with a strong female cast and creator. It also launched its cast members, like Washington and Tony Goldwyn, into superstardom.

“If you get one or two of these in a career, you’ve had a successful career so I feel very lucky,” said Goldwyn, who plays President Fitzgerald Grant. “Shonda has really changed the game over the years. She did things that were first. She’s dealt with racial politics, sexual politics, politics politics, and criminal justice in a way that is so entertaining and has resonated so much.”

Bellamy Young, whose character Mellie Grant had quite the moment in the finale being inaugurated as president, said she feels lucky to have another year to soak up every “precious” moment of the show. The actress said she has big hopes for her new Madam President character (“I really hope she gets to show love and be loved, too!”), and thinks the show’s loyal fanbase is what’s made “Scandal” so unique.

The cast routinely live-tweets during episodes and shares behind-the-scenes details via social media with their ravenous fan base, called Gladiators. “Everyone was DVR-ing [at that time] and we made appointment TV come back. It was as gratifying for us as I hope it was for the Gladiators. We get to see how things land in real time,” Young said. “Shonda casts for soul, not the packaging by default, and without being dogmatic. I think her drive is [having] everyone see themselves represented on television. For me, that’s Shonda’s legacy — that everyone knows that they have a seat at the table.”

Scott Foley, who plays Olivia Pope’s love interest Jake Ballard, shared another reason the show found such a strong footing. “We’ve been embraced by the industry because sometimes you’re in a show [that] the industry couldn’t give a crap about and the fans love. Sometimes you’re in a show without great ratings, but the industry loves it. To find one that straddles that line is really monumental and I’m so proud to have been a part of it,” he said.

The cast was also excited to watch the finale’s new ending for the first time.

“There’s definitely some shock and awe moments, and some big huge reveals, but there is also a huge cliffhanger that we just found out about three hours ago,” laughed Darby Stanchfield, who plays White House Press Secretary Abby Whelan. “Shonda changed the ending — surprise, surprise! But every time she does, it makes it only better. I am really happy we have a whole season left to tell more of the stories, and we have a year to say goodbye to these characters and this ‘Scandal’ world.”

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