Gabrielle Union Opens up on Losing ‘Scandal’ Lead to Kerry Washington

Gabrielle Union poses in the press room during the 2013 BET Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on June 30, 2013 in Los Angeles

Gabrielle Union mentioned on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” that she auditioned for the role of Olivia Pope on ABC’s “Scandal,” which of course went to Kerry Washington.

While promoting tonight’s premiere of her BET series “Being Mary Jane,” the actress spoke to the Associated Press about losing the role, and how the Olivia Pope character gave her hope that more strong, likeable black female TV leads were being written.

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

“Being Mary Jane” premiered last night as a two-hour movie and will return in January for an eight-episode run. Union stars as Mary Jane, a TV news anchor who struggles to balance work, her love life and her family, and represents a very different direction from, as she puts it, her usual “good girl who meets the bad guy from the other side of the tracks” characters.

“If you loved me for one thing and may not have liked me in something else, this role gives the audience a chance to see that I can do more than one thing,” said Union.

“I didn’t get Scandal, but I got something better — which is my own show,” Union said. “It’s all about building a legacy. This new opportunity is something I feel that can grow.”

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