By Mandi Bierly
July 18, 2013 at 12:00 PM EDT
Danny Feld/ABC

ABC’s Scandal scored two Emmy nominations this morning, one for lead actress Kerry Washington, who stars as fixer/on-again-off-again presidential mistress Olivia Pope, and one for guest actor Dan Bucatinsky, who recurs as Cyrus Beene’s husband, TV journalist James Novack. Before Washington heads to the drama’s first season 3 table read this afternoon, she phoned EW for a quick chat.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you find out about your nomination? From Twitter, it sounds like you were flying this morning.

Kerry Washington: I was getting on a plane to fly back to LA from northern California. I was at the airport, and it was that wonderful thing — you know how you’re always a little preoccupied at the airport? You’re trying to get the right food to take on the flight with you. I had my dog with me, and I had to walk her, and go through security. [Laughs] My hands were full, and it was really nice to be so distracted. And then my phone rang and I saw that it was my publicist/friend Michelle, and I was like, Oh, oh, yeah. Whoa. I wonder what she’s calling to say.

And it’s great timing because you’re headed back to work today for the season premiere table read.

I’m really excited to read the script. It’s totally cold reading, of course. So we’re all dying inside with anticipation. Just, like, who will be at the table read? Will Scott Foley [who was made a series regular] be at the table read, or will he not be at the table read because his character is in the hole for the whole first episode? Will Joe Morton be at the table read as my dad, or no? Where do we start? We have no clue. So that’s super exciting. And also for me, I’m just so excited that I get to see everybody and hug everybody and thank everybody today, because to me, this nomination is really a reflection of this cast, how we inspire each other and how we elevate each other.

Everyone uses the words “crazy,” “sexy,” “soapy,” “juicy,” and “delicious” to describe the show — which is all true and why we love it.

[Laughs] You just made me really hungry.

But those adjectives, while great for building buzz and a devoted audience, could’ve turned off Emmy voters. Did you ever wonder whether they’d keep people from taking the work the cast does on the show as seriously as they should?

To me, I don’t approach the work or the life of the work from the perspective of, like, what are voters gonna think? Or, what are critics gonna think? I just can’t. Once you try to please a specific perspective or audience, for me, it gets in the way of the work. The work is telling the story, and that’s what you have to do: Tell the story in the best way possible to serve the creative vision and to serve the story. You can never control how it’s going to be received.

I just watched an interview you did online leading up to nominations, and you said you called your doctor after wrapping last season because you were concerned you may not be producing more adrenaline after operating on such an intense level for so long. How do you prepare to re-enter the fray and face the emotions that are going to be hitting you, starting today?

I really tried to take a break and refill the well, so to speak, so that I would have those reserves again. So I’m rested and healthy and ready to get back in it. It’s a beast, the 22-episode thing. [Laughs]

Last question: I know you don’t discuss your personal life, but I do have to congratulate you on news of your June wedding breaking on July 3, the eve of a national holiday. Everyone was like, “That’s very Olivia Pope.” Was that your idea?

[Laughs] I thank you for your congratulations, and that is where that conversation will end. [Laughs]

Shonda Rhimes’ political drama: Sex! Murder! Olivia’s suits!
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