Power and Grace: Getting to Know 'Scandal' First Lady Bellamy Young
On ABC's Scandal, First Lady Mellie Grant is a force of nature. She's unapologetically ambitious and capable of putting the President of the United States in his place with spot-on rants. It's a tough order for anyone, but a perfect fit for Bellamy Young, who has a history of playing strong women. The charismatic, affable actress - the total opposite of her alter-ego - recently spoke with Digital Airwaves about playing the most powerful woman in America.
"I am the luckiest girl in the world," she said, "because my part in the pilot was two sentences long. The only thing I knew when I auditioned was that it was the best script I'd read that pilot season. They already had Kerry [Washington] and Tony [Goldwyn], who I'd loved forever. I had no idea how it would bloom and how they would start to write for Mellie.
"The First Lady is such a fascinating office to hold," she continued. "You're not elected, but it's very much official. You can see the latitude of power of that office. So I knew it would be fascinating."
Mellie has proven to be the most surprising character on Scandal, which is now in its second season; while the show very much orbits around the characters of Olivia Pope (played by Washington) and President Fitzgerald Grant (played by Goldwyn), Mellie is far from just the other woman in the love triangle. She's confronted her husband over his infidelity, is expecting their first child, and a recent reveal showed her in an after-hours meeting with a group of high-powered people including Olivia.
Young played another political spouse as Ellen Darling on another ABC series, Dirty Sexy Money, but Scandal has proven to be an even bigger stage for her talent. Her work in the role has garnered high praise from her co-workers - in our interview at the end of last season, asked about her favorite moment from the season finale, Washington said "I'm so excited for people to see the work of both Bellamy Young and Matt Letscher. I think one of the really great things about doing a show about crisis management is the stakes are so high that you really get to see actors flex their muscles. Week to week you get these stellar performances, these awesome moments from actors and these two just blew me away."
Asked what it's like to work with Washington and her on-screen spouse Goldwyn, Young said that "It's incredible. There's never been a better number one on the call sheet in the history of time than Kerry. She is tireless in her generosity on screen and off. She's always there to support us. The tiniest turn of a crew member's ankle or something happens in a scene, she sees it all and she honors it. She's also been incredible personally because I've had a lot to learn. I've never been a series regular. There's been a big learning curve and she's been just so kind to share her big brain and her giant heart with me.
"And Tony...last year it made me so nervous becaue he directed me on Dirty Sexy Money. I loved him as an actor forever, but when he directed me, you get to know just how smart he is and how much attention he's paying to everything. So it was a little daunting to rise to the opportunity of playing his partner. There has yet to be anything as rewarding as getting to play Tony Goldwyn's wife on screen."