Now, with the seventh and final season kicking off Thursday, the star is opening up about what’s next professionally and personally — and what’s in store for Olivia Pope.
“Thanks to Scandal and thanks to being really blessed, I have a very full life now,” Washington, 40, told PEOPLE at a press junket in September. “When we did our big 100-episode celebration and I said to everybody – the truth is, I’ve been Olivia Pope longer than I’ve been anybody’s wife or mother, so she lives within me very deeply, but those relationships are really top priority for me. Those things aren’t having any sort of finale! Because of my relationship with ABC and the opportunities through Scandal, I’ve been able to start a production company. I think I’ll probably be busy. But I’d love to take a vacation too. That’d be nice!
Washington, who is the first black actress to lead an American network drama series since 1974, not only made history in the world of television, but also started a family. In 2013, the actress married Nnamdi Asomugha. The duo welcomed daughter Isabelle Amarachi in May 2014 and their son Caleb Kelechi in October 2016.
Though she found her happy ending in her personal life, what’s next for Olivia?
“I don’t have a want for her,” she told reporters. “I want what the writers want for her. I feel we’ve gotten this far. We’ve gotten to a seventh season of a groundbreaking, history-making show because of our writers. In my own life, I work very hard to be a self-determining person to the best of my ability, but that’s not what I came to work to do. I came into Scandal to be on the ride – I learned to really enjoy the adventure of that ride. I always say I’m not Team Jake or Team Fitz, I’m Team Shonda.”
“If she had it all figured out, there would be no show,” she added. “Like in the first season, she was seemingly perfect. She had it all, but her personal life was a freakin’ mess. Now we get to see her again in a place where it looks like she has it all professionally. But it’s not going to be simple. I don’t know exactly how that’s going to unfold over the entire season to end the series, but I can tell you that it’s really challenging me as an actor and surprising me. I feel just as excited and nervous and honored and determined toward excellence as I did in our pilot. This team and this material and this show brings out in me.”
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Written by creator Rhimes, the Thursday’s premiere, titled “Watch Me,” will follow Mellie 100 days into her presidency, while Olivia makes moves to run the world — but an international incident may or may not cause conflict.
“I don’t know what the theme of this season is going to be, but there is a lot of exploration of power and what it looks like and what it means and how it’s executed,” she said. “I think Olivia is trying to be in this power and have it be a place of service – a place where she’s dong everything to defend and protect and uphold this democratic republic.”
Scandal premieres for the last time Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.