Actress Kerry Washington and her much revered Scandal alter ego Olivia Pope share more in common than drop-dead gorgeous looks and an affinity for tailored white trench coats and opera gloves. Both ladies know how to keep a secret, and that’s no easy feat with the increasing demand for transparency placed on today’s celebs and scripted (or real) Washington political players.
But the thing about public figures’ secrets, no matter how well hidden? They will always make their way into the light. Singer George Michael once aptly stated, “Celebrity and secrets don’t go together. The bastards will get you in the end.”
Perhaps that’s what 36-year-old Washington was thinking in July, when it was revealed that she’d quietly wed 32-year-old NFL cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha in a private and intimate ceremony in Idaho the month prior. No one even guessed the two were even dating. It’s clear that the notoriously private actress and her team are well versed at keeping her private and public life separate.
Yesterday’s news that Asomugha and Washington were expecting their first child was another well-hidden secret revealed… or was it? The Hollywood gossip mill had been on serious baby bump alert ever since the wedding was announced. The size of her belly and her wardrobe choices were closely scrutinized by the gossip rags and blogs. When Washington, who usually dons body-hugging frocks, walked the red carpet at this year’s Emmy Awards last month in an angelic empire-waist Marchesa gown, it set the pregnancy rumor wheel in motion.
Nothing says pregnancy in Hollywood like an empire waist on a svelte actress usually known for showcasing her tight waistline. Throw in the tulle skirt embellished with sweet (albeit distracting) floral appliques and a long train, and she might as well have tweeted out her pregnancy to the world. Loose fitting looks for her recent appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and at the Apple Store in Soho to promote Scandal continued to fuel the rumors. So this isn’t so much news as it is confirmation that the star has been with baby for the last four months.
And yes, she was pregnant when she got married. Get over it. Apparently this has some fans screaming bloody murder.
One pissed-off woman commented somewhere that Washington should have just admitted the baby was the reason the couple rushed their nuptials. Demanding an explanation from Washington is out of line and seems a tad bit stalker-ish, seriously. “I try to be really naked emotionally in my work, and I am not holding back at all when it comes to my work. I am giving all that I can in my work… So my work belongs to everyone—because that’s the choice I made and my life belongs to me,” Washington has said to E! News.
The bearer of the baby news says Washington wouldn’t have discussed this at all, but “she didn’t want the focus to be on whether or not she has a bump” during her Saturday Night Live hosting duties this coming weekend. #Fail. Now, you can bet all eyes will be firmly planted on her belly during the live sketch show.
No doubt the same will be true on Scandal.
Will her pregnancy make it unto the show? Will Ms. Pope be switching up her high-waisted pencil skirts for chic maternity wear? It seems highly unlikely that Washington’s pregnancy will be written into the series. Ain’t nobody got time for that, at least not in Olivia’s fictional world of the most loved T.P.I.C. (top political fixer in charge). The show rests on her quick problem solving and being available anytime for her clients; pregnancy would just slow everything down.
Most likely, executive producer Shonda Rhimes will just hide the pregnancy. Maybe she’ll take some cues from The Cosby Show’s third season, when Phylicia Rashad’s pregnancy was concealed with layers of loud jackets and strategically placed objects. They could mask Washington’s belly behind props. Maybe Olivia will develop a thing for oversized comfy sweaters or flowy kaftans. But unlike Clair Huxtable, Olivia can’t afford to be away on a slew of business trips, since the entire show rests on her shoulders.
This isn’t Rhimes’s first time dealing with a pregnant star on her show. Ellen Pompeo was pregnant on Grey’s Anatomy, but Pompeo’s character spent most of the show dressed in shapeless hospital scrubs that quickly solved the problem. There’s always the weight gain angle that played itself out on Mad Men (Betty Draper suffered from a thyroid tumor) when actress January Jones was pregnant.
Rhimes will surely find a clever way to deal with Washington’s growing belly. Come to think of it, a plotline revolving around whether Fitz or Jake is the father of Olivia’s baby might be right in line with the jaw-dropping storylines Rhimes is so adept at weaving into the hit series.
One thing’s for sure: Washington is still tight-lipped on the baby issue. Her rep’s response to the baby news? “We do not comment on her personal life.” But the secret is out. Probably only the real life Olivia Pope, Washington poltical crisis manager Judy Smith, could clean this one up.
Alexandra Phanor-Faury is a Haitian-American writer living in Brooklyn, New York with a slight (OK, major) addiction to fashion and pop culture. When she's not up in the middle of the night filling her online shopping carts and catching up on style blogs, she’s writing about fashion and entertainment for a number of websites and her blog, Fringueuse.