So…We just fell in love with Mama Pope.
Don't really care if this new Scandal character, played by Khandi Alexander, turns out to be the worst human being who ever lived, because we are officially Team Maya. Thanks for playing, everyone else on the show!
Alexander, who returns in Thursday's episode as [Spoiler Alert] Olivia's (Kerry Washington) not-actually-dead mother Maya, just chatted with us and spilled these five amazing confessions:
Read on for our fun convo, but be advised: It'll make you Team Mama Pope, too. There is no resisting!
Such a shame you couldn't get on a good show that people actually talk about or tweet about.
Ha! I know. It's just wonderful. Everyone has been so welcoming and I am such a huge fan of theirs, I really am. And above and beyond everything else, the most amazing thing is that I got to Meet. Lisa. Kudrow. Oh my god! I'm such a big fan of HERS. You have no idea.
Oh yes. I told her. I said, ‘Lisa, you have understand, I love The Comeback. I still watch it as if it's still on TV. Why isn't it still on?!' I'm telling you, every time she saw me coming, she probably wanted to run the other way, because it was all I could talk about.
You have amazing taste.
Right? And I had a very Valerie Cherish (Kudrow's Comeback character) moment in my career. I booked this great job and I looked fabulous that day and then I got there and then all of a sudden they put me in the auntie outfit. It was a movie. They even had one of the actresses refer to me as an auntie! I was appalled!
Tell us everything you can about Mama Pope. How was she described to you?
This is the best part. The executive producer, Mark Wilding, called me and offered me the part. And he said, ‘The only thing I can tell you is that you're Mama Pope and you can't tell anybody anything. Do you want it or don't you? Is it a yes or a no?' I said, ‘I'm in and I won't say anything.' And I didn't tell anyone. I didn't tell my agent, my manager, my boyfriend. I didn't tell anybody and I didn't know anything….They knew I was doing the show but they didn't know anything about what I was playing.
Were you a fan of the show before getting the part?
Oh, yes. I was deeply invested in the love triangle and I wanted her to be with Fitz.
Nice! So how did your opinion change when you found out Fitz shot down a plane you were supposed to be on? Kind of a deal-breaker, right?
Actually, after the Mellie revelation [that Fitz's father raped her], that was more powerful to me than shooting down the plane, because now that I know her backstory and what she sacrificed… It's like, she can't be with him. And aside from that, I love Scott Foley. I have always loved Scott Foley. I mean excuse me if I had the choice, hello! I mean, what's the problem here?! Either or! Absolutely I'd take Scott Foley. And Tony, I'd take that, too.
Everyone knows that the wardrobe and hair and makeup on Scandal is bananas. So out of this world good. And no offense, but from what we've seen, you are getting screwed! It looks like you are in a hospital bed with oxygen and short hair. Were you disappointed?
Oh, you have no idea. Not only do they tell me nothing about what I'm doing other than I'm going to be Mama Pope, but I worked with Lyn Paolo, the stylist, on ER for 12 years. We were so excited to work together again and I just couldn't wait. I had visions of Chanel in my head! And I showed up and she said, ‘OK, so what size jumpsuit do you want?' And I said, ‘Wait, what? Excuse me?' Because I had no idea what I was doing. I said, ‘No one's told me anything! Is it a 70's flashback?' She said, ‘Nope, you're gonna be in grey. What size do you want? Do you want to eat in this jumpsuit? I can give you a large.'
You have such a strong dance and theater and Broadway background, and Kerry Washington has a strong theater background, too. Are you talking to her about a Scandal musical?
Ha! Of course! Maybe a two-woman show. But you know, all of the actors on the show are from theater. It's quite amazing. We do table reads and I get to hear all the other stories. And I enjoy the fact that everyone is supportive of the show. They were so welcoming to me and I'm such a fan of their work. It's a great environment, the best I've ever worked in.