Life Lessons from TV Moms: Maya Lewis on ‘Scandal’

Khandi Alexander, ScandalABC

We know what you’re thinking. Mama Pope is horrible! She’s a terrorist! She’s insane! She tried to kill the President of the United States/her own daughter’s boyfriend! Okay, sure. But on Scandal, no bad guy is just a bad guy and even the good guys can’t always be trusted. Mama Pope A.K.A. Maya Lewis A.K.A. Marie Wallace (played by the supremely talented Khandi Alexander) is a strange, scary figure, but there are a few things we can all learn from her. As Olivia Pope once said about the baddest of bad guys Hollis Doyle, “even the devil loves his kids.”

1. Have a Special, Exclusive Nickname for Your Little One

Every time Olivia picks up the phone and hears the name “Livvy” her heart stops a little. Sure, she’s partly terrified because her Mom keeps coming back from the dead, and popping up in the States when she was just on a plane to Europe. But there’s also something endearing about the whole thing. She may be the Olvia Pope, D.C. Fixer extraordinaire, but it’s nice to know that to one person she’s just plain “Livvy.” Even if Olivia is freaked out every time she gets on the phone with her mom, we know she’s also, always secretly happy to be Livvy again, if only for a moment.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Tread on the Dark Side of Motherhood

We can’t talk about Mama Pope without discussing the one scene that kind of told us everything we needed to know about her. In one of her first appearances, when she was still being imprisoned by her husband Eli Pope (because of that one time she killed all of those people on a plane), Mama Pope kinda, sorta, literally ate through her own wrists so as to break free and make her way to Olivia. Sure, it was dark and gruesome. But motherhood is a dark place sometimes. And every once in a while you have to get a little animalistic if you’re going to make it through.

3. Be the One Person Who Keeps It Unbelievably Real with Your Child

Some people forget that Mama Pope was the first character on the show to make one brilliantly astute observation about Olivia: Kerry Washington‘s character is not a very happy person. She’s got great coats, she’s got great men (sort of), her job is pretty cool, and she’s the best fixer around. Her hair is perfect, and her friends and coworkers are loyal. But she doesn’t laugh that much and it’s kind of a bummer. In a recent episode, Mama Pope even went so far as to call her The Help, and pointed out (rather harshly) that Livvy’s world revolves around the people she serves. Mothers are not just meant to cuddle and coddle; they need to keep it all the way real sometimes. And keeping it real is one thing (of many) that Mama Pope is not afraid to do.