07/02/2013 05:21 pm ET

Kerry Washington: Olivia Pope 'Fully Owns Being A Woman'

Another day, another reason to love Kerry Washington.

Washington portrays high-powered political crisis manager Olivia Pope on ABC's hit show 'Scandal.' Pope has been recognized as a groundbreaking character in terms of gender and racial representation (the role is the first African-American female lead in a network drama in almost 40 years), but she is also trailblazing in another important way -- or so says Washington in this month's Vanity Fair.

As Washington told Vanity Fair contributing editor David Kamp:

What I think is cool about Olivia is that she fully owns being a woman.There’s a very nurturing sense of "I’m going to take care of you -- don’t worry about it. I’m gonna be your mom in this situation. You come stay in my office, have a cup of tea, and let my gladiators take care of you." There’s something very maternal about it. But there’s also something very executive about her, and I mean "executive" in a presidential way.

Washington has spoken about the ways in which Olivia Pope is a multidimensional female character in the past. "In her professional life, she is so powerful and is this self-made woman," Washington told Ebony Magazine in February. "But in [Olivia’s] personal life, she is a mess and I kind of love that ... I love that I get to embody all of that complexity because I also think it takes a certain level of progress for us to have a Black Woman that powerful be an emotional mess on television.”

It's encouraging to see such a complex female character on a network drama -- one who, as Washington describes, embodies femininity as well as professional power and who struggles with work-life balance like the rest of us. It's even more encouraging to see an actress as eloquent and inspiring as Washington bring her to life.