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Kerry Washington August 2013 Vanity Fair CoverNorman Jean Roy/Vanity Fair

Kerry Washington played oppressed slave Broomhilda von Shaft to damsel-in-distress perfection in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained," and she entertains TV audiences as D.C. fixer Olivia Pope on ABC's "Scandal." Naturally, she had to work hard to develop her acting chops, but her most illuminating training experience wasn't your typical run-of-the-mill improv class.

In a profile article for Vanity Fair's August 2013 issue, the "Peeples" actress credits her work as a teen safe-sex advocate -- performing self-written sex-ed sketches in schools and community centers -- as some of the best acting practice she's had.

"We would stay in character after the show, and the audience would interact with us," she recalls of her time with the troupe. "It taught me the importance of really understanding everything about who you're playing, because you never knew what question was going to come."

Talk about excellent prep for a Tarantino film -- and her "Scandal" role. "I have to learn things to be [Olivia] all the time," Washington adds, claiming to not be as smart as her intimidatingly sharp small-screen character.

We don't believe that for a second, and neither does "Scandal" creator Shonda Rhimes, who praises Washington's work ethic. "I have never heard Kerry Washington complain," Rhimes says. "That sounds like a casual thing to toss off, but think about the fact that she works more hours than anybody. I literally never hear her complain. That is a very rare breed of person."

Washington tied the knot with San Francisco 49ers cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha in a hush-hush ceremony on June 24 in Idaho.

[via Vanity Fair]
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