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A Scandal-ous Night at PaleyFest LA

PaleyFest LA is an amazing, star-studded event that brings together the cast and producers of TV’s hottest shows with their fans. The Paley Center for Media has hosted this two-week event annually at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood since 1983, each night featuring a different television show. Fans can pick their favorite show (or all of them) and attend a special screening and panel discussion at an affordable price while getting to see some of their favorite stars. A big congratulations to those that won tickets from our giveaway and were able to attend the event! Luckily, if you missed the event, we had the incredible opportunity to attend PaleyFest LA this past Tuesday night, which featured the show Scandal. As huge Scandal fans, it was practically a dream come true to be able to cover the red carpet, view an upcoming episode from this season, listen to the panel discussion with the stars of the show, and meet the cast members in person.

Everyone looked flawless on the red carpet (we especially loved Darby Stanchfield's outfit), but our favorite part was getting to chat with some of the stars!

The first star we talked with was Joshua Malina, who plays David Rosen on the show. Joshua has an incredibly engaging personality, and it was clear from both our interview and from the live panel discussion later on that he’s a bit of a jokester with a great sense of humor. We found out that his daughter is a Senior in high school awaiting college acceptance decisions, so we were sure to show off that Bruin pride! (No bias…)

HC UCLA: What’s your favorite part about being on the show?

Joshua: The money. And then working with the people.

HC UCLA: Are you Team Jake or Team Fitz?

Joshua: I am Team “Whatever makes the show run the longest!” I love all of the actors. I have to say, though, on Twitter I said that I’m Team Jake because it let me fight with the greatest number of people.

HC UCLA: When did you get your SAG card?

Joshua: That’s a good question…I think from the movie A Few Good Men. I had five words, “yes” and “sir,” but I got it.

HC UCLA: If you could play any other character on the show, who would it be?

Joshua: Olivia. Kerry Washington works really hard, so I would take just one day. Pay day.

HC UCLA: Who would win in a cat fight – Olivia or Mellie?

Joshua: It would be a draw. They’re both pretty badass.

Later on we spoke with another one of our favorite actors from the show, Jeff Perry, who plays Cyrus Beene. He was joined on the red carpet by his beautiful daughter, and we quickly discovered he’s another one with a fiery personality that couldn’t help but make us smile.

HC UCLA: What’s your favorite part about being on the show?

Jeff: Everything! Absolutely everything. The people are amazing. Actors are usually just happy to be employed, but sometimes you get team chemistry that is just amazing, and we have that. That’s my favorite part. On camera, we fight like cats and dogs and we lie and cheat and kill, but definitely not off-camera.

HC UCLA: Are you Team Jake or Team Fitz?

Jeff: I think she just needs to move on.

His daughter: I’m indifferent…but probably Team Jake.

HC UCLA: Who would win in a catfight – Olivia or Mellie?

Jeff: That would be a draw to the death. I don’t know if either would make it out alive.

After we met some other members of the cast, stared in awe at their gorgeous outfits, and snapped some pics, it was time to move inside for the official event. It started off with an early screening of the next episode, which was of course amazing. If you haven’t seen the latest episode, we’ll let you experience those gasp-worthy moments on your own (trust us, you will gasp), but in the meantime we want to warn you that there may be some spoilers in in the rest of this report.

After the screening came the panel discussion. Producer Shonda Rhimes was joined by cast members Kerry Washington, Darby Stanchfield, Tony Goldwyn, Katie Lowes, Guillermo Diaz, Joshua Malina, Bellamy Young, Joe Mortan, Portia De Rossi, Jeff Perry, Cornelius Smith Jr., and Scott Foley. A.K.A the most incredible, hilarious, creative, entertaining cast ever.

Gladiators in suits. In real life. In front of us.

One fan asked Rhimes how she is able “to balance the story that [she] wants to tell with the story that the fans want to hear.” Rhimes confidently answered that the story she tells through the show is just the story that comes out, influenced by the characters themselves rather than the expectations of the fans or what she personally wants to happen. This is what keeps her and the writers engaged in the show, and is what, in our opinion, makes Scandal so intriguing. She doesn’t create stories for views; she creates them from the heart, and it shows through the natural interaction between the characters, how the show builds around each character, and the way the plot develops overall.

Rhimes said her inspiration for writing is everything around her, from “some phrase someone said in the elevator” to a “song on the radio.” She also said she is “more influenced by Hamilton” (the musical) than by the current election. She went on to say, “The election right now is...its own thing. You can’t make that stuff up.”

One fan inquired about Abby’s monologue in the latest episode regarding her internal conflict between wanting to be a good person and her hunger for power in the political world. “It’s about being competitive, and it’s about the fact that she stood next to Olivia the whole time and watched everyone and knows what it means to watch people grab for power and get it. She’s never done that before, and you can tell that she wants it.” She continued, “In our version of Washington, you lose your soul and [Abby] is not necessarily sure she’s ready for that.” She emphasized that the monologue centers around this struggle to be “the big dog” or “a good person.” We are dying to see where Abby’s character shifts in the future and how her hunger for power develops in future episodes.  

One fan expressed her disappointment about Olivia and Fitz’s current relationship status, or lack thereof, which was a comment met with much agreement from the rest of the audience. Rhimes answered that “[Olivia’s] primary story has been discovering herself.” She continued saying that the affair was a fantasy, and she figured out "the fantasy wasn’t real.” It’s more about the journey of self-discovery, the fact that  “Olivia does not know who she is yet,” than it is about love between Olivia and Fitz.

Overall, it was an incredible night. It was truly amazing to see and hear from some of the most talented people in Hollywood. Let’s be honest, sitting in front of Shonda Rhimes and Kerry Washington was a dream come true! All of the cast members were hilarious and engaging, and the cast’s chemistry was undeniable and electric. There were lots of laughs, smiles, some singing, and some great jokes throughout the night. We’re so sad that PaleyFest LA is done for this year, but we can’t wait for next!  

Christina is a second-year Psychology major. She loves Netflix, chocolate, and exploring new places.
Janina is a junior majoring in Linguistics and Psychology at UCLA. When she's not writing for Her Campus, you may find her doing outdoor yoga, laughing at "I Love Lucy" reruns, cooking vegan food, or face timing with her puppy back home.
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