Scandal’s fifth season has been a wild ride for Bellamy Young’s character, Mellie Grant. We’ve witnessed the former First Lady officially divorce her cheating commander-in-chief husband, Fitz, before announcing that she’s running for president herself. And then came the biggest shocker of all: Mellie teamed up with her ex-husband’s mistress—the one and only Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington—to help run her campaign. Of course, the plot twists won’t stop there. With just two episodes left in Season 5, fans of the ABC series are still in for some major surprises, according to Young.
“The season finale is nothing any of us could have anticipated or expected,” she told InStyle earlier this week. “It sets up Season 6 so brilliantly—and it is really a jaw-dropper. I think we’re just bringing it home beautifully.” There’s no doubt that the May 12 episode will leave us wanting more, but tonight’s episode packs plenty of drama too. “This week’s episode is the one that really got us in the table reads,” said Young. “We all cried, like, three times. It’s a doozy of an episode, and a real gem.”
We chatted all things Scandal with Young, but the star also opened up about life off-camera. In particular, she discussed her ongoing struggle with migraines, which have affected her both at home and on set over the years. “I’ve had to miss whole days at work to just lie down,” said Young, who’s teamed up with reliefwithinreach.com and prescription medication Treximet to encourage fellow migraine sufferers to talk to their doctors. “Now that I’ve found something that works, I don’t worry about whether or not I can commit to a party or do my job without fear,” she said. “That’s important because most of acting is just living in abandon and surrender and reacting to what’s going on, so you don’t want to have that little cloud hanging over your head.”
Scroll down for more of our interview with Young.
Your character, Mellie, has gone from First Lady to presidential candidate. Have you looked at any real-life women in the White House for inspiration along the way?
“Absolutely! When I got the job, I hadn’t been such a good student of history of the First Ladies, because it’s not one that is so often brought forth in school. It was a lot of fun to go back and learn that so much of our history is inextricably linked to the woman standing beside or behind the man.”
Speaking of which, you snapped an Instagram with our current president and First Lady at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last weekend. What was that experience like?
“I’ve been fortunate enough to meet [the Obamas] a few times, but it’s always awe-inspiring to be with them. They’re just so lovely and present and warm. It was my second time at the White House, but getting to be with them for the president’s last Correspondents’ Dinner was really a dream—and even more so because I got to share it with my whole cast. It was so surreal for D.C. to open its arms to a bunch of actors who pretend and run around, but then welcome us like they do. It’s just like a fairytale.”
Mellie’s journey on the show hasn’t been exactly fairytale-like, but she’s evolved in so many ways. Did you ever imagine that she’d come so far and be making her own run for the Oval Office?
“I could have never anticipated that my role would be as complex. Mellie’s had so many iterations and gone through so many things. I hope with all my heart that she gets to be president, and I wish that she’d also get to know reciprocated love. But in Shondaland, things are a little more fun when they’re a little less happy. So who knows what will happen.”
Mellie has such complicated relationships with both Fitz and Olivia. What’s your take on everything?
“I feel like it’s all new ground. I think we’re seeing some adults in uncharted territory, trying to navigate the waters with as much grace as they can since they’re in the public eye—but, also, with as much heart. At the bottom, under all the conflict, there’s a lot of love in all directions. Even between Fitz and Mellie, there’s so much history. They share children and are very good at co-parenting, despite whatever drama and pain they may have between them. And there’s certainly deep, deep love between Fitz and Olivia—but also there’s deep love and respect between Mellie and Liv. Ultimately, it’s three people knowing that running the world is difficult, that your allies are few, and that forgiveness has to be a part of the equation—but still, you always have to keep your guard up.”
And on Scandal, the costumes really do serve as coats of armor for the characters. Are you a fan of Mellie’s power outfits?
“Yes! I feel like [our costume designer] Lyn Paolo is almost the co-creator with Shonda on the show. You could watch the show with the sound off and almost glean you know a very specific narrative just from the way she tells the story through our clothes. It’s a delight from the moment that I put on the wig and the hose, and it’s like I’m instantly transformed. It does half of my job for me.”
Do you have any input when it comes to Mellie’s fashion choices?
“Lyn is very collaborative, but we trust her and defer to her judgment. There’s been an ongoing dialogue about Mellie’s jewelry this season. It was sort of iconic to have her in pearls, but when she got free of Fitz, she also got free of her ornamental capacity with the pearls. And so finding an alternative after something so iconic, we found ourselves really foundering. I think we really started to find it towards the end of the season. Just like it was super fun to see Olivia take on color from the black and white, this was a really fun journey in itself.”