ABC’s new show “Scandal” features two African-Americans in the leading roles which is rare in prime-time television on broadcast networks. Here at “Washington Watch,” we’re doing our part to make sure the show is a success, because in Hollywood money talks, and that means ratings. And if one show with Black leads succeeds, we’ll certainly see more.
Columbus Short joined Roland Martin on Washington Watch from Los Angeles to discuss ABC’s new series.
MR. MARTIN: The new show, “Scandal,” on ABC, features two African-Americans in the leading roles, and that is rare in prime-time television on broadcast network[s]. Here at “Washington Watch,” we’re doing our part to make sure the show is a success, because in Hollywood money talks, and that means ratings. And if one show with Black leads succeeds, we’ll certainly see more.
The leads are Kerry Washington, my homegirl, and Columbus Short. He joins us now from Los Angeles, and we’ll talk with him after we take a look at a clip from next week’s show.
[CLIP FROM “SCANDAL.”]
MR. MARTIN: Columbus, I gotta say, man, your role is a pretty cool one on this show. So, how’s it feel to be a “gladiator”?
MR. COLUMBUS SHORT: [Chuckles.] Well, tha- — that’s what made me want to do the show. I mean I just felt like she set the tone off with – great, you know, from the beginning, with the show. You know, introducing, you know, Harrison – my character, Harrison – kind of brought everyone into the world, and I think – you know, that was one of the reasons why I wanted to do the show. But every week since; every script I got, you know, after the pilot was just – I mean you just feel great. You feel good. You feel – you feel like a gladiator. They – they dress us well. The writing’s fantastic, and you’re surrounded by actors who are all phenomenal. So, you know, it feels great to be a gladiator.
MR. MARTIN: Well, as someone who loves to wear pocket squares and dress well as well, you know, that’s the first thing I noticed in the pilot. I said, “They[’ve] got Columbus. He’s not dressing like a normal cat in D.C.” [Chuckles.]
MR. SHORT: [Chuckles.] See? That’s the thing. These guys – these guys are like – you know – you know how D.C. is, you know. These guys – you know, they want to look like the Who’s Who, but they’re – they’re even more – Harrison’s a guy that – you know, his confidence is in his – in his wardrobe, is in hi- — how he carries himself. It is that he’s a fast talker and knows what to say and knows how to get in and out of any situation. So, the wardrobe’s a big play in – into who his character is.
MR. MARTIN: A lot of folks early on – a lot of sisters were saying, “Oh, thi-” – “this is” – “Here you have this strong, Black woman, and she’s ticking people off.” But I think also, the show has been able to show the range of her character as well.
What do you hope the audience also gets away from your role and the char- — in terms of what you bring to the table?
MR. SHORT: I mean as the season progresses – and w- — and we – and, granted, we did do a small – a short season – you know –
MR. MARTIN: Right.
MR. SHORT: — seven episodes. But – you know, and there – there’s a lot to cover. There’s a lot to jam in there; but for my character, I think, you know, you see – you see the loyalty throughout all these – all – the whole –
MR. MARTIN: Right.
MR. SHORT: — cast – the loyalty to the firm, the loyalty to Olivia. And – and she helped us. She brought us from somewhere, fixed us somehow, and now we are loyal to – to the death, you know, for – a great line in last night’s episode was, “Over a cliff.” And – and I think I – that – that speaks to everyone, and I think that’s – that’s what I want people to get from – from my character. And get strength. You know, we haven’t – we don’t see enough characters in our image – meaning African-Americans –
MR. MARTIN: Right.
MR. SHORT: — that are portrayed like this. Do you know what I mean? With power, with class and with wit, with charm. So, I think it’s – it’s just – I hope people take away that there – there’s more to us than just, you know, “Stomp the Yard.”
MR. MARTIN: Well, Columbus –
MR. SHORT: [Chuckles.]
MR. MARTIN: — as you said, folks are loyal on this show. Many of us are loyal watchers of the show. We check it out every, single Thursday –
MR. SHORT: I appreciate that.
MR. MARTIN: — on ABC. And so we certainly hope that ABC will pick this show up for a full ride next season.
And thanks for coming on “Washington Watch.” We look forward to having –
MR. SHORT: Oh, man –
MR. MARTIN: — you back.
MR. SHORT: — oh, man, I would love to be back. And – and, yes, I appreciate the support – for real. We all do.
MR. MARTIN: All right. And, folks, you – out there, you can follow him at columbusshort1 – number 1 – on Twitter. And trust me. He does respond.
So, Columbus, thanks a lot.
Folks at the beginning of the segment, I said if a show with Black leads succeeds, we’ll see more. The reverse is true, too. Every time a show with Black leads fails, network executives get more and more afraid. So, remember. If we want more shows starring people that [look] like us, we need to support shows like “Scandal.”
So, check it out on ABC Thursdays at 10, 9 Central.
The same also holds true for “Think Like a Man.” We had a panel last week. $33 million opening weekend, [the] number one movie. Trust me. Hollywood is saying right now, “Hm-m-m. We might need more Black romantic comedies.”
That’s what happens when we speak with our dollars.