SAN JOSE, CALIF. — Scandal star Kerry Washington is first to credit Twitter with giving the hit drama in which she stars seasons two, three and four. But she’s also quick to say she pointedly keeps her real life a mystery, albeit tweets on the show, her mostly white wardrobe, her dog and other mundane details.
“I was terrified of social media because I am a very, very private person,” she said at the BlogHer conference Sunday in San Jose, Calif. where the likes of HuffPost‘s Arianna Huffington and Re/Code‘s Kara Swisher made their media presences known. “I didn’t know how to engage in a public way and still be private.”
So she learned. She worked with an assistant “to create a voice in this world and to intimately connected to [my] fan base but not feel like I’m giving over too much.”
The actor insists it’s better for the viewer if you don’t know much about her in real life. “It’s harder to lose yourself in the work if you know too much about me,” she said. “I like to keep my life a mystery so you can more enjoy the stories we’re telling as actors. … If it seems I am more interesting because I don’t share is a lie, because I am incredibly boring.”
In contrast, her character, Olivia Pope, is anything but dull. Washington, who plays the president’s love interest, said she wanted the entire cast on Twitter. But she didn’t want to be the pushy, bossy actor who insisted on it. So she enlisted Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes to do her dirty work, which she did, prompting the entire cast on the social medium every Thursday.
The actor makes no bones about the fact that Twitter has boosted the drama’s popularity. She says, “Really, I think social media and our fans saved our show. I think it’s why we got a season 2, 3, and 4.”
At the same time, she’s serious about her privacy. “The things I don’t talk about so much are my marriage, my family,” she said. “I tweet about my parents, I can’t help myself. I do tweet about my dog sometimes. She super famous.”
Still, there’s backlash. Some viewers don’t like her dating a white man (two, actually). Or that she had sex in the White House (from behind).
“The backlash is none of my business,” she said. “I’m a big believer in not reading comments. … People in social media can be very mean. In fact, some of our cast members have struggled with it a lot. Quinn, one of my best girlfriends … people can’t stand Quinn sometimes. Quinn gets it bad sometimes. Quinn gets it bad.”
To help explain her philosophy, Washington says, “I do not weigh myself. Part of it is because there is never a good answer. If there’s a good number I don’t want to eat for the rest of the day. It is none of my business what you think of me. I’m living my life.”
And just in case you were wondering, no, she doesn’t get to keep Olivia’s fabulous clothes. “People come up to me all the time and say ‘I want her clothes!’ I’m like, me too!”