Which White Actress Was ABC’s First Choice To Play Olivia Pope On ‘Scandal’

It’s hard to imagine anyone else playing Olivia Pope than Kerry Washington, but if ABC had its way, another actress would’ve played everyone’s favorite political fixer. Ahead of the show’s upcoming milestone 100th episode, Shonda Rhimes drops a major bomb regarding casting. Even though Olivia is based on real-life politico Judy Smith, who is black, network execs initially wanted a white actress to take on the role.

“Nothing felt more important than the sense of outsiderness. I didn’t know that there hadn’t been a drama series with a leading black woman for 37 years. When the show got picked up [to pilot], I got a phone call from somebody who said, ‘This would be the perfect show for Connie Britton.’ I said, ‘It would be, except Olivia Pope is black,’” Shonda told The Hollywood Reporter.



Love Connie Britton, but I can’t picture her in the role. Imagine if she had been cast, I highly doubt Darby Stanchfield who plays Abby Whelan aka ‘Red’ would’ve snagged the role. Though, had Britton secured the job, she might’ve found herself reunited with Katie Lowes who plays Quinn Perkins. Lowes once worked as a nanny for Britton.

Casting director Linda Lowy also chimed in about the casting process. “The network was reading us their top choices, and it was Connie and all white women. I panicked. Somebody finally piped up, “We’re going to have to redo this list.”

She added, “We tested Kerry, Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose. It was Kerry from the moment I took her to meet Shonda.” Rumor has it Gabrielle Union and Taraji P. Henson were also considered for the role once ABC agreed to having a black actress headline the show.

Do you think with Connie Britton as Olivia Pope, Scandal still would’ve been a hit? Weigh in below.