Bellamy Young thrives in 'Scandal' love triangle
This photo released by ABC shows, Bellamy Young, left, as Mellie Grant, and Kerry Washington, as Olivia Pope, in an episode "We Do Not Touch the First Ladies," of the TV series, "Scandal," Thursday, March 6, 2014, 10:00-11:00 p.m., ET on the ABC Television Network. (AP Photo/ABC, Eric McCandless)
NEW YORK (AP) — Of all the fans of "Scandal" — and clearly there are lots of them — none seems more gung-ho than Bellamy Young.
But unlike most fans, who must satisfy themselves by catching every episode, Young isn't watching from a distance. Instead, she's in the thick of this steamy political thriller about a Beltway-based crisis manager (Kerry Washington) who is desperately in love with the nation's chief executive (Tony Goldwyn). Young plays the third corner of this White House love triangle, first lady Mellie Grant.
"It grows more intense and more stuff happens with every episode," Young marvels, "and we talk faster! Off-camera, they're shouting "'Scandal"-pace' at us because they write these long, intricate scripts, and we have to get it all in."
After two months' hiatus, "Scandal" is returning Thursday at 10 p.m. EST on ABC, with Mellie picking up where she left off in a whirlwind of heartbreak, ambition and behind-the-throne power.
As the "Scandal" saga has spiraled, Mellie has grown into a pivotal figure, a steadfast but beleaguered wife who holds the fate of her husband and his presidency in her hands.
But when the series was cooked up by creator Shonda Rhimes, Mellie was conceived as a passing presence.
Young vividly remembers the cast's first script reading.
"Shonda went around the table afterward, telling all the actors what their story arcs would be for the first seven episodes. When she got to me, she said, 'I think you'll be here for about three episodes,' and I heard her say something about 'presidential divorce.' I'm dying inside, but I'm trying to smile. I'm Southern. I'm trying to be polite."
The 44-year-old Young is indeed polite, as she demonstrates during a recent interview. Firmly but graciously she shoos off an overweening waiter ("We are trying to do an interview, but we will holler if we need you"). A native of Asheville, N.C., she is Southern.
FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2014 file photo, Bellamy Young arrives at the 15th annual InStyle and Warner Bros. Golden Globes after a party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. Young stars in the TV series "Scandal," returning Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, at 10 p.m. EST on ABC, with Mellie Grant picking up where she left off in a coil of heartbreak, ambition and behind-the-throne power. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, file)
But as a teen she headed north to Yale, where she graduated with dual degrees in English and theater studies, then moved to New York, where, on Broadway, she put her singing skill to work as well as her acting chops in Cy Coleman's "The Life" and in the revival of Stephen Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along."