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Kerry Washington on how she stays grounded amid 'Scandal' craze

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Kerry Washington
Victoria Will/Invision/AP

Kerry Washington is one of the most fascinating stars to bubble to the surface of Hollywood in recent years.

Though best known for her work in movies, in April 2012, the actress began a relationship with TV viewers thanks to Scandal — the addictive, twist-filled drama from Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes, which will enter its third season this fall. And earlier this year she found herself in a Hollywood perfect storm — she had a hit network TV show and was hard at work promoting Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-nominated Django Unchained, in which she played wife to Jamie Foxx, together the nucleus of the movie’s love story.

Washington will be the first to call herself lucky, but she also has her success in perspective. For example, when asked of her best career decision in recent years, she doesn’t point to anything professional, instead saying a clear mind is what guides her. “The big decision I made in the last two years was to make sure I put my own mental health and wellness very high on the list of priorities,” the actress told EW while being interviewed as part of our New Hollywood Issue. “The truth is, I just don’t think it’s ever about one decision. I think making a commitment to try to make good decisions on a regular basis is probably the best decision I could have made.”

Also important, she says, it accepting both the good and bad events that come during a long career. Yes, even she’s had some downs. In fact, she recalls one trying instance in which she was recast on a television show and “unbelievably devastated.” But even that disappointment had its purpose, she says. “Down the line, in that window that I would have been doing the show, I had the opportunity to do a movie that really changed my career,” she remembers. “I feel that what’s meant to be yours is meant to be yours, and what isn’t, isn’t. I can’t think of a time when I really, really wanted something and didn’t get it and then saw it and thought, ‘I would have been better.’ Even when it was something that I really, really wanted, I saw it and was like, ‘Yeah, that was hers, definitely meant to be hers.'”

It’s all part of the journey, she says. “You don’t ever have a roller-coaster ride that only goes up. … It’s about enjoying the ups and the downs, and in the end, trusting the ride. The ride is going to be what it’s supposed to be, and it’s going to be a blast.”

For more on Washington and the other faces of New Hollywood, pick up a copy of Entertainment Weekly.