The Scandal star covers the April issue of Elle magazine, where she opens up about her character's big decision in the midseason finale (Warning: spoilers ahead), and how that shaped Washington's own view of herself.
"Even though Olivia Pope has obviously made the decision that she is not a mom," Washington says, referring to Pope choosing to terminate her pregnancy, "playing her made me feel like I could be a mom. 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."
"I feel like playing her made me feel like, 'All right, I can do it. I will figure out how to juggle it all,'" she adds.
Washington, who married NFL player Nnamdi Asomugha in 2013, welcomed the couple's daughter, Isabelle Amarachi, in 2014. Washington spoke on her marriage and daughter at the SXSW music, film, and technology festival this week, insisting that she would not address marriage rumors, or any speculation for that matter, because, "If somebody has rumors about what's going on in my marriage, I don't refute them, because I don't talk about my personal life."
In the meantime, Washington is set to star in Confirmation, an upcoming HBO biopic about Anita Hill, who famously accused Supreme Court justice, Clarence Thomas, of sexual harassment in 1991. The 39-year-old actress has made sure not to shy away from projects of significance to her personal beliefs.
"I'm a person who's always been politically active and passionate about people's rights," she explains in the Elle interview. "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."
Hill's story represents an important moment Washington wants to highlight with this film.
"The behavior that Anita Hill described was going on in a lot of offices throughout the country, and most people didn't think they were doing anything wrong," Washington says. "But this created awareness around that and around the need for women's voices to be heard in our public spaces, both testifying before Congress and sitting on the committee. It really was such a huge cultural shift."
Another cultural moment Washington has discussed was this years Oscars diversity problem and subsequent boycott by some within the black community. The actress opened up to ET in January about the discussion the controversy had started.
"What's great about what is happening this year with the Oscars is it's giving us an opportunity to talk about these things in a way that's a little bit more honest than we've talked about them in the past," she explained at the time.