'Scandal' star Kerry Washington talks on series' third season

Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the 85th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles.

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Actress Kerry Washington arrives at the 85th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles.

BEVERLY HILLS — Sunday was not a day of rest for either ABC or the Television Critics Association, slouching toward the end of its summer press tour.

The Disney-owned network spent the day pitching the television press on its forthcoming offerings for the fall season, and to be honest, some of them did look promising.

But when it came time for the ABC party Sunday night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, the press sought out people like Maggie Lawson and James Caan (“Back in the Game”), Jeff Garlin (“The Goldbergs”) and Sophia Lowe and Peter Gadiot (“Once Upon a Time in Wonderland”), but almost everyone seemed to be keeping one eye on the ballroom entrance for the star of a third-season show: That would be Kerry Washington, who plays Washington DC fixer Olivia Pope on Shonda Rhimes’ hit “Scandal.”

Dressed in an orange and white brocade cocktail length dress, with grey patent leather heels and her hair swept up, she was happy to answer questions about the forthcoming season of “Scandal,”which airs on Thursday, Oct. 3.

“The show picks up right where we left off, just a moment later,” Washington said. “It’s very exciting that we get to learn more about Olivia and her father.”

After that, Washington said she doesn’t know where the season will go.

“We’re never privy to that information. I can’t even tell you what’s in the second episode, but I can tell you it’s really good,” she laughed.

Looking back from the vantage point of two powerhouse seasons and Emmy nominations for both Washington as lead actress in a drama and Dan Bucatinsky, for guest actor in a drama, it’s difficult to imagine there was ever a time when the series’ success was in doubt.

But that’s not how Washington recalls it.

“Thank God our first season was only seven episodes because the writers were like, well this seven might be all we’re going to get so let’s just go for it, and let’s go hard and let’s put it all out on the table. Then when we got picked up, we’re like, oh well, we can’t pull back now.”

She also recalls when the buzz started to build for the show.

“I have to say one of the things I was so grateful for was that we were still working,” she laughed. “But as this buzz was happening, and we could feel it around us ... and we were like, ‘Oh, people are really paying attention to the show.’ We were all so busy memorizing our three-page monologues, that we couldn’t really obsess about it. It’s better to be able to stay busy.”

Earlier in the day, ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee called Washington’s Emmy nod “historic,” but the actress was eager to emphasize the ensemble nature of the show.

“I was really excited that the day of the nomination was our first table read, so I got to hang with the cast and the writers and the crew,” she said. “And I believe in my heart that this nomination belongs to all of them because there’s no way you can play a character like Olivia Pope for 22 episodes without just reflecting the excellence around you. Every time you’re watching Olivia you’re really seeing the excellence of the other actors and the members of our crew.”

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