As Scandal's scheming, calculating First Lady Mellie Grant, Bellamy Young is Washington's answer to Lady Macbeth and a formidable adversary for Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope — who is, after all, having a steamy on-and-off affair with President Grant.
The ABC drama, returning tonight with new episodes, brings this Broadway, film and TV vet her splashiest role yet. Young's sworn to secrecy about the plot, but she is willing to share about Mellie, her pregnant co-star, and later in life success.
YourTango: Things got rather bloody and violent this season. Pretty shocking!
Bellamy Young: It has taken a very gruesome turn, hasn't it? I closed my eyes when Khandi Alexander was chewing off her own wrist. I think it's another way that Shonda [Rhimes] is sort of playing with the envelope of television. The violence is yet another way. It's sort of Roman, right? This is all very Spartacus, in the lion's den. We're in that sort of realm of life in D.C., and I think she's saying it's very life or death.
YourTango: Will that continue?
Bellamy Young: So far this engine has only been an ever-escalating machine. So I can't imagine Shonda pulling back on that. I would be surprised.
YourTango: Your character is a rival to Olivia, but even as the antagonist, we care about her.
Bellamy Young: I've always had compassion for Mellie because I think you're meeting her in the worst moment of her life, which also happens to be the best moment of her life. Factoring all of that in, it just made my heart swell.
YourTango: How is Kerry doing, being pregnant on set?
Bellamy Young: Kerry's gorgeous, all day, every day, any way you turn on her. So it's really actually been easy to work around. She's the hardest working woman in the world, so it seems very business as usual.
YourTango: How has she been handling all the attention and accolades?
Bellamy Young: She is seriously the most grounded, generous, incredible woman alive. I don't even know how to quantify the enormity of her heart. She's wonderful.
YourTango: What kind of a mom do you think she'll be?
Bellamy Young: Anyone would be so lucky to have Kerry in their life in any way, and particularly as a mom. I know how lucky Josie is, her puppy. I see her with Josie. Ellen [DeGeneres] made Josie a little director's chair so she has her own chair on set.
YourTango: Have you been to the real White House?
Bellamy Young: No, we do all the shots on green screen. I hope to get to one day. I heard that [the Obamas] had requested our DVDs over Christmas. So I hope they're enjoying it.
YourTango: You've been working for years, but Scandal is your biggest hit yet. Do you appreciate success more now?
Bellamy Young: Yes. These things are happening to me very late. I'm 43, and I just know how lucky I am to be standing here. So I just stay super grateful. Because, you know, the minute your nose goes up, you trip and fall on your face and it's humiliating. So you keep yourself a level head. I've been super blessed. I've worked solidly all along, but nothing on this level. The way people love this, and to be with these people, this job in particular, is an unquantifiable blessing. And I am grateful every nanosecond.
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Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC