Kerry Washington: I Choose to Feel Optimistic, Because I Couldn't Get Out of Bed Otherwise

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With a recent Emmy nod for HBO's Confirmation, a newly inked development deal with ABC Studios, and baby No. 2 on the way, Scandal's Kerry Washington clearly has her own life "handled." The ever-busy star took time from shooting her upcoming season to sit down with InStyle's Ariel Foxman for our September issue, where she spoke candidly about the state of our world today. While her 3 million Instagram followers are no strangers to the 39-year-old voicing her opinion, she did offer us a rare look into her life as a mother and woman's advocate, and why she chooses to remain positive in spite of today's headlines. 

Read a sneak peek of what she revealed below, and watch behind-the-scenes video from our cover shoot above. To see the full feature, pick up the September issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download Friday, August 12

She's taking parenting notes from Shonda Rhimes. On preparing for the arrival of her second child, she tells us she's taking advice from her boss. "I consider myself busy," Washington says, "but [Scandal creator and writer] Shonda [Rhimes] has about four of five shows, three kids... She says, 'If you feel like you have just the right amount of help, then you don’t have enough.' My therapist said this too. You need a lot of support. Not just logistically but emotionally and spiritually."

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She leans in. "I feel like there is a misconception of this catty, competitiveness between women," says Washington, who recently took part in Sheryl Sandberg's campaign urging women to help each other in the workplace. "That has not been my experience, particularly in Shondaland. My mother is one of seven kids…so I have a lot of strong women in my family, and I have supportive, beautiful relationships with all of them." She's also a grad of N.Y.C's prestigious all-girls Spence School, so she's "always believed in the collective power of women." "Being the one woman in the room should not be seen as a victory," she says. "If there’s only one of us in the room, we’re still a token; we don’t actually have an empowered voice. If there’s two of us, we’re still a minority. If there’s three… then we’re allowed to have a multiplicity of opinions."

Speaking of Spence... "From the time I was 11 or 12, everyone [at school] was like, 'You are so lucky to be here.' And I was lucky, but so were they," she says. "They were lucky I was there because I gave them an expanded idea of what humanity looks like, feels like, and how it expresses itself."

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She doesn't want to live in a color-blind world. "I don't want to not be African," she says. "The goal is to live in a world where my race doesn’t limit my access, where I can see myself represented in the highest level of society without any limitation."

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She feels positive about social change. "I choose to feel optimistic, because I don’t think I could get out of bed if I didn’t," she shares. "The key will be when we stop allowing our otherness to separate us. Whether it’s immigrant’s rights, women’s rights, civil rights, or LGBT rights, we’re all under attack, because none of us belongs to that small group who have held power for a very long time."

She takes time for quiet reflection. In fact, that's part of the reason for her recent social media hiatus. "You arrive at a certain place of achieving and suddenly you feel like your goals are being dictated by other people," she says. "Right now, as I get ready for this second baby, it’s really about me being in touch with what I want. I didn’t get here because I was trying to be what somebody else wanted me to be… So for now, I’m leaving myself open to the adventure."

RELATED: Kerry Washington Listens to Beyoncé and Rihanna to Feel Powerful

For more from Washington, including her thoughts about pregnancy and why she doesn't follow anyone on social media, pick up the September issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download Friday, August 12.

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

[MUSIC] I really liked all the looks today. [MUSIC] I'm really lucky because the people that I work with, I love them dearly, so I feel like. That would be my biggest tip for staying calm on camera is to surround yourself with people you really like to be with cuz I don't know I feel like the camera sees everything it's hard to fake it but I've been working with my makeup artist Kerala for over ten years, my hair stylist for over ten years and we're like real girlfriends we're all going to the museum with our kids after this so I think I'm at ease because I'm with family. [MUSIC] It's funny cuz I don't always think of myself as a confident person. But I think I try to stay focused on the positive. And I think I try to stay true to myself. I try not to focus on being who other people want me to be. Cuz I don't excel at that. I'm not very good at being who other people want me to be. [LAUGH] I'm better off being myself. [MUSIC]
 
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