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Vanity Fair's August cover is quite scandalous! Kerry Washington poses for the new issue in sexy white cutout swimsuit. The 36-year-old actress, who stars as Olivia Pope on ABC's soapy drama "Scandal," shows off her slim bod while modeling in a swimming pool. Styling short wet hair, glam red lips and smokey eyes, Washington seductively smiles for the camera.

In the magazine, Washington opens up about why she's proud to play the lead role as a crisis manager on "Scandal." "One of the most profound things for me about the show is the number of white women of all ages who come up to me and say, 'I want to be Olivia Pope.'"

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"It's especially profound in a place like South Africa," she added. "It's called 'The Fixer' over there, and it just started its second season. The fact that white women can see this woman of color as an aspirational character is revolutionary, I think, in the medium of television. I don't think white women would feel that way about Olivia if her identity as a woman, period, wasn't first in their mind."

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And her character's femininity is one of Washington's favorite parts about the role. "What I think is cool about Olivia is that she fully owns being a woman. There's a very nurturing sense of 'I'm going to take care of you -- don't worry about it. I'm gonna be your mom in this situation. You come stay in my office, have a cup of tea, and let my gladiators take care of you,'" she explained. "There's something very maternal about it. But there's also something very executive about her, and I mean 'executive' in a presidential way."

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Actress Gabrielle Union recently revealed to The Associated Press that she lost out on the role of Olivia Pope in "Scandal." But Union has Washington to thank, in part, for landing her new role in BET's "Being Mary Jane."

"I said to myself, 'Oh my God, these roles are out there.' It showed me that you don't have to settle. Luckily, the success of her and the show bred more work," Union said. "Just from the audition process, I knew that I couldn't go backward."

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For more of Washington's interview, pick up the August issue of Vanity Fair on newsstands July 9.


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