Kerry Washington, Marie Claire

Thomas Whiteside/Marie Claire

Kerry Washington's TV stardom has made her one of the most recognizable actresses today. Not only is she acknowledged for her acting talents, but she's also been recognized for her political involvements and standing up for what she believes in, mirroring behaviors often associated with her Scandal character Olivia Pope.

The A-lister sat down with Marie Claire for the magazine's "Power" issue and opened up about what the term really means to her. 

When asked about her personal definition of the word, Washington described it as just that—personal.

"Honestly, I think about power as more of an internal phenomenon," she said. "I tend to think about empowerment for myself so that I have the courage and ability to act on the ideologies and priorities that resonate with me. I've always wanted to cultivate a sense of empowerment within myself without seeking approval from outside sources, which is hard to do as an actor, which is part of why producing is so important and which is where some of my freedom, or learning, to take that sense of freedom and bring it to a larger audience and larger space has a lot to do with having my employer be a black woman." 

Kerry Washington, Marie Claire

Thomas Whiteside/Marie Claire

Washington has worked with several strong women throughout her career, including Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes.

"I didn't feel like I had to twist myself into some other understanding of what black womanness is supposed to look like, because Shonda got me, and so I could get closer to my truth...Just her existence and working with her so intimately changed the idea of what power looked like in this business," she explained.

She also considered her children some of her most influential "teachers."

"We think children come into the world and it's our job to mold them and create them and teach them who to be so that they can be the best version of themselves, but it's actually completely upside down," she said. "We get sent by God the kids we need so we can grow in order to be the parents they need us to be. The children I got sent came in perfect, and I have to figure out how to grow and evolve so that I can support the truth of them. I'm in a constant state of learning and challenging myself to make room for their perfection and beauty."

When she's not working behind or in front of the camera, Washington loves spending quality time with her family.

"My days off look like homework, reading and watching stuff," she told the publication. "Just hanging out, doing things we love to do."

Now that she's finished with Scandal, Washington is taking on another challenge—Broadway. She returns to the stage for American Son on Nov. 4. In fact, the theater is near and dear to Washington's heart.

"The last time I did theater, it completely transformed my life," she said. "That's where I met my husband."

To read more of Washington's interview, check out Marie ClaireThe issue hits newsstands Oct. 18.

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