Interview: Bellamy Young

From the interview archives.

Perhaps better known as President Melody Grant from the critically acclaimed Scandal, Bellamy Young has been seen in a wide range of roles and films, from CSI Miami to Criminal Minds and Dirty Sexy Money. VULKAN caught up with Bellamy to discuss the bittersweet end to Scandal and what upcoming projects she has in store. 

In Scandal, as fans know this season, you are President. What is one thing you’d focus on if you held office today?

I have to say that social justice reform and arts in education are near and dear to my heart, but gun control feels like the most pressing issue and most ACHIEVABLE victory possible right now. It would take a strong leader and prevailing common sense, but I really have to believe that it’s within our grasp. I believe in us. 

What has been the most challenging part about playing a character like Melody “Mellie” Grant for many seasons?

Honestly? It’s been nothing but a joy. She surprised me every week, and she taught me how essential it is to stand in your own power. No matter what. Sometimes I sit in that Oval, especially in a night scene when the fireplace is lit, and I am so moved that she achieved her goal. I know she’s a fictional character, but I’ve lived with her for 7 years: I’ve mourned her losses, and now it’s very dear to see her live her dream. Though we all know when dreams come true, they’re never what you imagined…

What will you miss most about working on Scandal?

The family of people. Not just the actors- but also our crew, our writers, our production staff, everyone. And most importantly: our gladiators! We would never have gotten a second season without their grassroots support via twitter; sharing Thursday nights with our TGIT family online has become so precious to all of us. I’m going to miss being on this ride with everybody!

What is one situation you would have liked to see Mellie tackle?

Well, she lost a son, got a divorce, survived a rape, brokered world peace, mended a friendship with ‘the mistress’- I guess at this point, I’d like to see her tackle being happy, being loved, being in love. She’s proven she can weather the storm: I want to see how pretty she looks standing under the rainbow.

Sum up the Scandal experience in just three words. 

Life-changing gift.

What can you tell us about the How To Get Away With Murder/Scandal crossover? Will you be involved?

I can tell you that it’s a terrific, seamless blending of the two worlds: not at all a shotgun marriage. I love the storyline, and well, isn’t it every actor’s dream to be in the ring with Viola Davis? We were thrilled to welcome our dear friends from HTGAWM over onto our playground and thrilled to get to rummage around in their house too!

Do you think the United States would benefit from having a woman in the oval office? How?

I feel very deeply that it is time for us to have a woman in our highest office. We’re way behind the rest of the world on that front. Representation matters. It’s a tacit social contract. If you can see someone doing something, you know you can do it too. If you see that only (save one exception) older white men get to President, you assimilate an unspoken inequity that can truncate your potential, bonsai your life path. That’s why I feel lucky to be part of ShondaLand: I know Shonda resists the word ‘diversity’; she thinks of it as ‘normalizing.’ Everyone gets to see themselves represented. Everyone has a seat at the table. And everyone’s potential is explored. For example, a woman can be President. And since that and so many other stories come into our living rooms every week, hopefully people everywhere (men and women) will become just a little more accustomed to the notion of equality, of the power, the potential, the grace, the beauty behind those faces and in the hearts of folks they otherwise wouldn’t be that familiar with. And that’s when real change can happen.

A Wrinkle In Time has quite the star studded cast. Can you give us some insight to your role?

I was very lucky: Ava DuVernay directed us second season on Scandal, & she called as she was setting up the film to offer me a part. It’s a tiny part honestly, but the book meant so much to me when I was a kid, and Ava is such a visionary- I jumped at the chance. And have you seen the trailer? It’s STUNNING. I can’t wait to see the film. I’m so proud to be a part of it!

We know you love to sing and even have your album Far Away So Close (available on iTunes). Are there any plans to release a second album in the future? 

Absolutely! Music means the world to me- it will always be a part of my life. I’m working on getting a one-woman show together to tour next fall & spring, and I hope there’s lots of studio time to come in the future. I love it so much. There’s nothing like trying to feed your soul into a beautiful microphone & hoping it moves someone when it comes out the other side. 

What was the most surprising part about producing your own album? 

How fun it was. The old adage is true: if you love it, it doesn’t feel like work. That and: be careful whom you pick to work with! I had the loveliest producer, Brad Wood: we recorded at his Seagrass Studios, and every day was an absolute JOY.

Who would you like to collaborate with on a track if you could this year?

Everything that comes out of Pink’s soul moves me. I’d love to be in the same room with her, much less get to sing with her.

What is one message you think young girls need to hear today?

This generation is SMART. They know their worth and they know why their souls are here. With respect, I’d just say to keep listening to their heart’s voice and follow their instincts. They’re going to lead us into a beautiful, thoughtful, inclusive future.

If you only accomplish one thing this year, what do you hope to do?

To keep growing: not to rest or slide back into fear. To stay awake and open and lean into the unknown- from work to love to travel to self-care: there’s so much more to experience in this life, and I don’t want to miss a thing! 

Anything else on the horizon that we should keep an eye out for?

I’m part of a film called Bernard & Huey that just sold at Slamdance, so look for that in theaters in May!

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