Dan Martensen / ELLE Magazine
When we look at Kerry Washington, we see a strong yet compassionate, tough yet kind superhero of a woman—qualities of which we also relate to her Scandal character, Olivia Pope.
And even though Pope has actively decided not to be a mother on the hit television series, Washington says her on-screen character helped play a big part in her taking on real-life motherhood.
Opening up in the April issue of Elle magazine, the 39-year-old actress said playing Pope made her believe in herself.
"Even though Olivia Pope has obviously made the decision that she is not a mom, playing her made me feel like I could be a mom," Washington explained. "Because she knows there's always another way—there's always a way to fix it, there's always a way to solve it, to win. And I feel like playing her made me feel like, 'All right, I can do it. I will figure out how to juggle it all.'"
But it's not just Pope who has influenced the actress. She also credits her mentor Shonda Rhimes for inspiring her.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Women In Film / MaxMara
"She's been such an amazing resource, as a mom, and as a working mom," Washington said. "I am on one show and I have one kid, and she has three shows and three kids."
Even her husband, Nnamdi Asomugha, has been influenced by Rhimes, as Washington revealed he has been listening to the audio version of Rhimes' book, the first-person self-help journey Year of Yes.
"We bought it for a bunch of people for Christmas because I feel like it's a little bit of required reading," Washington explained.
AP Photo/Scott Andersen, ABC/VIVIAN ZINK
Finally, staying on the same path of influential women, Washington speaks out on her role as an executive producer and actress in Confirmation, the HBO biopic on Anita Hill.
Despite being a public figure, Washington refuses to sit back on political topics and human rights (like Hill's story) that matter to her.
"I'm a person who's always been politically active and passionate about people's rights. I marched against the  Republican Convention," she explained. "And as my career has expanded, it's been important for me to not stifle that voice. Because you want to be popular, you want people to hire you, and I have to make sure I don't do it less because I'm an actor."
See more from Washington's Elle interview here.