Kerry Washington is happier than she's ever been.
The Scandal actress turned 40 in January, and in a new interview with Glamour, she talks about hitting the milestone age. Washington says she feels like she's entering a new phase in her life, thanks to her kids -- 5-month old son Caleb and 2-year-old daughter Isabelle -- with her husband, Nnamdi Asomugha.
"Life is just getting better," Washington says about how being 40 differs from her 20s and 30s. "For me, 40 feels like a beginning. I’m in the middle of so much new -- with this career, the kids, and I’m still sort of a newlywed. I’m excited to be at this stage in life."
Washington says she makes a daily effort to slow down and enjoy the moment.
"OK, I've been really trying to practice the Oprah Winfrey ritual: I check in with gratitude and grace when I wake up," she shares. "I can be in a little bit of a state of overwhelm and panic if I don’t start out being connected to grace and gratitude."
"Because of my baby or a 5:30 a.m. call time, the day starts really early," she continues. "We have to pace ourselves. That’s a big theme for me these days. I have to pace myself for this political moment. Pace myself for my relationship with my family. Pace myself in my career to get through the rest of the season with a new child and a toddler. It is about slowing down, but it’s also about being present. Not rushing ahead or being stuck in yesterday."
The mother of two also talks about her iconic role as Olivia Pope on Scandal, and acknowledges that it catapulted her into fame.
"It’s impossible to say that Olivia Pope hasn't been one of the most transformative roles for me," she says. "I’ve never played a character for this long. Olivia Pope also took my anonymity away. Before, I was a character actor: Nobody really knew that the girl from Save the Last Dance was the same girl from The Last King of Scotland. So I could show up and be a person in the public eye when it was useful, then dip out and have my life. Olivia Pope has really changed that."
Her fame has also given her a voice when it comes to her activism.
"So many of us are feeling attacked, whether it's a woman’s right to choose or headstones in a Jewish cemetery, immigrants being deported or banned," she says. "So many of us feel the need to protect and defend our democracy. And march toward the dream of being 'We the people.' So that’s exciting, scary, and frustrating. We're awake. We are awake more than ever before, and we have to stay awake."
"My deepest desire is to create a world where there's room for all of us, where no matter who you are, you get to wake up in the morning and know that you are worthwhile and deserving." she continues. "If that's the world I want to live in, I have to do the work to make that true for me. I have to do the work of self-love and affirmation, and say, 'I am a woman, I am a person of color, I am the granddaughter of immigrants, I am also the descendant of slaves, I am a mother, I am an entrepreneur, I am an artist, and I’m joyful.' And maybe in seeing my joy, you can finish your sentence with, 'And I am joyful too.'"
Watch the video below to see Washington reveal the best part of motherhood.