On the covers of magazines; live-tweeting her hit show,
She's appealing all right, the enviable combination of smart and pretty with a can-do mentality to match that of her character on TV,
She's also an actress in the modern mold who knows that being a pro at the fashion game is a key to her success. That's why Washington, 36, made a conscious effort to learn her
"As an actor, your presence on the red carpet and also in editorial is your marketing division," Washington said during a recent chat in L.A.
Washington has a keen sense of occasion and appropriateness. She spends time scanning runway photos on Style.com and collaborating with Walsh to come up with interesting stories to tell through her red carpet choices. For example, when planning for the lunches and dinners leading up this year's Emmys, they decided on a pink color story, which culminated in the fairy-tale
"We try to be creative and have fun with it," said the actress, who lives in L.A. with husband Nnamdi Asomugha, an NFL football player. The couple is expecting their first child next year.
Washington, the daughter of Earl, a real estate broker, and Valerie, a professor, grew up in
She graduated from
Her interest in fashion came late, "which has been a good thing because I see all of this as an art form," she said. "I go to the shows in New York or Milan, and to me it's like going to a great museum opening or movie; you're seeing an artist at work. And when I sit down with my makeup artist and hairstylist, I know that's a collaborative work to create a moment of beauty out of the girl who just rolled out of bed."
"Kerry is as aspirational in beauty as she is in fashion," said Michelle Freyre, general manager of Neutrogena, which is tapping Washington for input on marketing and product development, as well as putting her face in ads.
"One of the things I love about Kerry is that she's such a curious person," said Walsh, her stylist, who also works with
But while she is a good student of fashion, she's not a big shopper. "I tend to buy a lot of stuff at photo shoots and fittings. It saves me time. And off the red carpet, I'm a much more casual girl. I couldn't live without James Perse T-shirts, MiH Jeans and my custom Nike sneakers."
One of the first designers to lend her a dress for the red carpet was Giorgio
Olivia Pope is a fashion plate too, with her trademark cream-and-beige color palette,
"When we shot the pilot, D.C. was in the midst of its renaissance of fashion with the first lady and [former
The costumes on 'Scandal' have been so popular that Saks Fifth Avenue designed window displays around them this fall. There has also been talk about Washington and Paolo collaborating on a clothing line. "It would have to be a partnership where I had a voice and Lyn had a voice and we could be authentic about sharing that aesthetic," Washington said. "I'm obsessed with the Olivia Pope loungewear world. That's so special and different. That may be one impact she's had on me. I've always worn a lot of comfy cashmere, but I was not a girl who walked around in silk pajamas before. And now I'm like, 'Why not?'"
Truth follows fiction in that Washington herself is a friend of the Obamas. She spoke at the
As part of the program, Washington "adopted"
To those who have suggested that Washington could play Michelle Obama in a biopic, the actress demurs. "I don't know if I could fill those shoes. She's pretty phenomenal."