Khandi Alexander on Scandal Mom's 'Murderous' Mindset, Why It's Easy to Love Kerry Washington
As we posited during the latest installment of TVLine’s Spoiler Alert! web series, Olivia Pope’s mother cannot be pleased with her decades-long imprisonment by B613, after having her death faked in the Flight 522 tragedy.
“Would you be happy?” Scandal newcomer Khandi Alexander confirms with a laugh.
Though Alexander has been schooled extremely well in maintaining B613-slash-Shonda Rhimes levels of secrecy about what’s on tap for her “resurrected” character on the ABC drama (airing Thursdays at 10/9c), she does allow that Maya — jibing with the side-eye she shot her husband at the close of last week’s episode — is in a “murderous” mindset. Meaning, all that time spent in a confined space did not heal any wounds. “No, she’s very, very angry with Eli.”
Beyond that, Alexander will only offer the most cryptic of teases. For one, “We will learn more about Maya’s past,” possibly via more flashbacks. (As the actress observes, “Joe Morton with that mustache and bit of Afro going on? That’s pretty sexy!”) In that same vein, she promises “more pieces to the Remington puzzle — though I can’t say which specific ones.” (Long story short: Maya was for some reason pulled off Flight 522 just before it took embarked on its doomed journey, shot down from the sky as it was by Navy officer Fitzgerald Grant.)
But perhaps the most burning question is if — or being the fast-paced, storyline-churning Scandal — how soon Maya might be reunited with daughter.
“We’re going to learn more about Olivia’s relationship with her mother, and what’s happened in the past,” Alexander sorta-answers. And though she won’t elaborate on how things used to be (beyond the fleeting glimpse we saw weeks ago in flashback), she states, “Very few mothers don’t love their daughters.”
Especially when said offspring is destined to be a rock star Gladiator, played by the likes of Kerry Washington.
“Kerry and I met years ago at Sundance, at an actors’ lab,” Alexander recalls, “so we have this mutual respect for each other that made it very easy to fall into a relationship.” She also had opportunity to meet Washington’s folks, thus observing how the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. “Her parents, I adore them. You can see how they raised such a wonderful young lady.” All told, “It’s easy to love Kerry Washington,” Alexander says. “Very easy.”
Regarding her TV daughter’s noteworthy Emmy nomination, Alexander recalls how “special” it was to see her on stage at this year’s ceremony, especially presenting alongside Diahann Carroll, who in 1968 earned the first-ever Emmy nod for an African-American. “Oh my goodness, it made you tear up — [that pairing] was so brilliant.”
Offering one final, vague salvo about what her Scandal-ous visit has in store, Alexander — who starting Dec. 1 can also be seen in the final five-episode season of HBO’s Treme — suggests that Maya being alive won’t be the biggest shocker to come out of the Remington mystery.
“There are even more surprises to come, without a doubt,” she teases. “Come on, it’s Scandal! The plot will thicken.”