In Shondaland, diversity and equity have always felt organic. Our forever idol, Shonda Rhimes, created a universe like no other with a slew of iconic television shows including Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder, and of course—Scandal. Rhimes’s quest to produce a more inclusive, genuine portrayal of the world bleeds throughout her award-winning work and Scandal actors Bellamy Young and Katie Lowes had the distinct honor of contributing to that vision.
Throughout its six-year run, Scandal routinely passed the Bechdel test by gifting viewers with some of the most complex, badass female characters to ever grace the small screen. It also tackled racial inequalities (in and out of politics) with compelling storylines that kept us coming back week after week. We’ll never forget the motto Olivia Pope swore by as an ambitious Black woman with major influence: “You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have.”
And how could we forget Bellamy Young’s standout portrayal of President Mellie Grant, a character that quickly won us over with her undeniable charm and ability to transform from First Lady to POTUS? Katie Lowes’s Quinn Perkins left her mark as well as an extraordinarily raw and multidimensional character who evolved with every season.
Recalling her time on set, it may come as a surprise to some that Young’s character wasn’t always meant to be president. “I had two lines in the pilot!” she said during the 2020 BlogHer Creator’s Summit. Fortunately (and undoubtedly inspired by Young’s portrayal), Rhimes would soon write her into more episodes, where she evolved into the Mellie Grant we all know and love. “Usually as an actor, especially a female actor, you get a script…it’s very narrow,” she said. “You serve a function, you’re not a human being.”
With the lack of descriptors that often confine female actors within the boundaries of a patriarchal society, these actors were able to explore and thrive in the portrayal of their respective characters. (We’ve read enough interviews and statistics to know this doesn’t happen as often as it should elsewhere.)
Lowes can attest to the power of Shondaland as well. “It felt like Utopia. The people in power were women, they were women of color, everyone felt inclusive,” she added. In fact, Lowes is still a student of Shondaland as the creator and host of the popular podcast “Katie’s Crib.”
To that same point, the magic of Scandal wasn’t limited to scripts. Lowes and Young also recalled the solidarity that existed between cast members. In other words—there was never a scandal on the set of Scandal (pun intended).
Show lead Kerry Washington (another #BlogHer alum) was especially gracious toward the team. “She came at it with a quarterback mindset,” said Young, recounting a story where Washington texted her to make sure she had the necessary items ahead of an event. “Instead of these horror stories of women throwing each other on the bus,“ added Lowes, “the etiquette was if something great was happening for Bellamy [Young], that means something great was happening for the show I get to be on.”
Is it too late for Mellie Grant to run for president this year? One ticket to Shondaland please!
watch the Power of shondaland panel below
ABOUT bellamy young
Acclaimed actress and singer, Bellamy Young, recently starred in her award-winning role as ‘President Mellie Grant’ on ABC/Shonda Rhimes’ Peabody Award-winning series, SCANDAL. Young’s critically-praised performance as the politically ambitious ‘First Lady then President’ has earned her a ‘Best Supporting Actress’ statue from the Critics’ Choice Television Awards, Entertainment Weekly’s 25 Best Characters on TV, #15 on Entertainment Weekly’s 50 Best TV Scenes of the Year, NY Post’s Top 10 TV Actors and she earned TV Guide Magazine’s Fan Favorite Award. She currently stars as Jessica Whitly in FOX’s hit new show “Prodigal Son” alongside Michael Sheen.
ABOUT KATIE LOWES
Lowes is no stranger to the big or small screen. She has been seen in big budget films such as Disney’s RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET and Dreamworks’ TRANSFORMERS 2, Bad Robot’s SUPER 8 directed by JJ Abrams and was the voice of Abigail in the 2015 Academy Award winning Animated Feature Film BIG HERO 6. In addition, she voiced an animated character in the 2015 Academy Award winning Animated Short Film FEAST, as well as the Oscar nominated Disney film WRECK IT RALPH. Lowes was the inspiration behind the motion and movement work for Idina Menzel‘s character Elsa in the movie FROZEN. Additionally, she has appeared in several independent films including DINNER FOR FOUR, THE JOB, CALLERS, BEAR and CAFÉ. She has been a guest star on hit series such as “The Closer,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice,” “Leverage,” “Castle,” “The Sopranos,” “N.C.I.S” and was a series regular on the CW show EASY MONEY, created by producers of THE SOPRANOS.
Lowes is regularly seen guest co-hosting “Live with Kelly and Ryan” alongside Ryan Seacrest.
Born in Queens, New York, Lowes is a graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Lowes is the co-artistic director of IAMA Theatre Company, which was named one of the top 20 regional theatres in the country. IAMA is in the midst of it’s 12th season in Los Angeles where she resides with her husband.
ABOUT reshma gopaldas
For the last 15 years, Reshma has been creating video content with a focus on women’s rights and health. She began her career in film and television production in New York, working with notable directors and actors. Her work has been featured on The Daily Show, Good Morning America, CNN, ABC, HuffPo, Jezebel, Fox, etc. At Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she produced, directed, and wrote the majority of their video content, and managed their celebrity supporters. Today, she heads video for SHE Media, which includes BlogHer, SheKnows, Stylecaster, Soaps.com, and HelloFlo.
ABOUT Daisy Maldonado
Daisy Maldonado is a recent graduate from New York University. She has lived in Los Angeles, Paris, New York, and London. Sustained by her lifetime passion to decode culture – she is interested in all things travel, feminist, artistic, and political. Follow Daisy on Instagram @daisymald_