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Kerry Washington: Scandal survived season 1 thanks to Twitter

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Scandal is well into its fifth season, and still one of the most popular shows on network television. But according to star Kerry Washington, the hit ABC series might not have gotten past season 1 without… Twitter.

Speaking with InStyle editorial director Ariel Foxman at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, Washington credited the online conversation around Scandal as key its success.

“Thursday nights are intense in Shondaland. If I see that I have a really hard scene scheduled to shoot on a Thursday night, I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me? I can’t do this scene, I’ll be tweeting!'” Washington said during a panel entitled “The New Rules of Social Stardom” at SXSW. The actress credited Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes with inspiration on the platform.

“Shonda is my social media she-ro,” Washington added. “While we were filming the first season, I emailed Shonda and said ‘You’re the boss, could you ask the whole cast to live tweet it so that they all join in because they’ll feel like they have to?’ I truly believe that we wouldn’t have had a second season if it wasn’t for that engagement.”

But despite using Twitter to promote Scandal and other her interests, Washington said she won’t ever use the service to dispel tabloid rumors — part of her general ethos of not commenting on personal stories.

“For a lot of celebrities, social media has been great in terms of their relationship with the tabloids because if something incorrect is written, they can just say, ‘That’s not true,'” Washington said. “But because I don’t post about my personal life, I won’t engage with that at all. I didn’t tell you when I was getting married, so if there are rumors about my marriage, I’m not going to refute them because I don’t talk about my personal life.”

Those comments echo similar ones made by Washington to EW as part of the Beyond Beautiful roundtable discussion with fellow stars Reese Witherspoon, Elizabeth Banks, and Eva Longoria.

“I have a relationship with my fans and they know that there’s a certain way I don’t talk about my personal life,” she said of her social media presence. “If they want to engage with that other BS, that’s fine. But over here, this is what we’re doing. This is my world, this is my voice, and if you want to be at this party, these are the rules of this party.”