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If you thought you were on pins and needles during the May finale of Scandal, then just wait for the season three premiere, airing October 3 on ABC at 10/9c. As Emmy nominee Kerry Washington put it to E! News, “There are a couple of moments that just might break Twitter.”
 
Washington's gorgeous co-star Darby Stanchfield, who plays Gladiator Abby Whelan also teased about the upcoming new season, saying, “I’ve read the first two scripts and I’m in shock. There's some amazing flashback stuff that you thought you knew the answers to but it's like, ‘Whoa, that's what really happened?’”
 
We got the chance to go one-on-one with the 42-year-old ravishing redhead to get the scoop on what’s in store for Abby, the snack she’ll never give up, and the workouts that keep her looking perfectly toned in those pencil skirts. 
 
SHAPE: We can't wait for the new season of Scandal! What can fans expect to see?
Darby Stanchfield (DS): I can’t give you much, but I will say it picks up right where we left off last season. Shonda Rhimes, the creator of the show, handles it in such a complex way. With one scandal, five more arise from that. It’s going to be completely off the books crazy.
 
SHAPE: What’s in store for your character Abby, and what will the relationship be like between her and David?
DS: I obviously can’t spill too many secrets here either, but the way Shonda phrases it, as long as it fits into the overall story, then you will find out more about Abby. There will be a few flashbacks and confrontations happening. As for David, in the first few episodes, there’s something around the corner for him and Abby. I don’t know what, but they’re definitely sniffing around each other. I don’t know if it’s on, but it’s definitely not off! (laughing)
 
SHAPE: How do you like working with Kerry Washington?
DS: She’s one of the hardest-working women I know! She's just so savvy and talented, and she’s involved in the community and giving back. This role is really what she shines so much in, and it’s so lovely to see her being recognized. It’s a thrill to be on set with her.
 
SHAPE: How do you like Abby’s style on the show? 
DS: Abby actually gets a makeover this year. Fans have seen her with thick straight hair throughout season two. Her style this season will be enhanced with looser, more tousled curls. It’s a more contemporary look with smoky eyes. Abby had fallen in love again since her bitter divorce and gone through a lot, and now she’s single with more self-confidence... you see that reflected in her personal appearance and it’s really fun!
 
SHAPE: What do you do to take care of your beautiful hair?
DS: I don’t over-wash it. I learned that from the business. If you over-wash it, you can ruin it easier from all the flat ironing and curling. Only wash it every three to four days if you can. I do a lot of masks too, with a little extra avocado on Sundays.
 
SHAPE: How do you stay in such great shape, and do you have a specific red carpet workout routine?
DS: I like to be very consistent with workouts and getting a good amount of sleep. I’ve really been enjoying Pilates lately. It’s actually really tough to fit in my schedule, but if I can get in a workout three times a week while we’re shooting, that feels right. Any more seems to deplete my energy. When I get ready for a high-profile event, it’s really about sleep and making sure I’m eating something healthy, and then it’s always important to stretch to stay limber. No matter what, you want to feel as loose as possible, because it’s easy to get full of excitement or tension with all that’s going on.
 
SHAPE: Tell us more about your love of Pilates. Do you have a specific class or trainer you like to go to?
DS: Lately I’ve really been enjoying Pilates Studio City. They actually have about three different studios in the Los Angeles area. They’re really intimate and well designed, and the teachers are all really good. I also enjoy doing Tracy Anderson’s workout. Because of my schedule, I tend to enjoy her DVDs because it’s easy to do them in my living room or at the gym any hour of the day.
 
SHAPE: How do you stay healthy on set with all the tempting junk food around on the craft service table?
DS: It’s actually pretty easy because I bring my own food to set. I prepare it the night before and bring it in. There’s an ongoing joke on set because I garden and grow my own veggies in the summer. I’ll always bring healthy things like tuna, tofu, quinoa, or kale salads. I also like to bring fresh-squeezed juices and nuts to nibble on throughout the day. I just have to stay away from craft services. Having that routine allows me to keep absolute focus on the physical shape I want to be in. It’s also important to allow yourself to have treats every once in awhile, so I indulge in dark chocolate. It’s just a balance, for the most part!
 
SHAPE: Do you share recipes with the rest of the cast for the healthy meals you bring to set?
DS: They always ask me, ‘what’s in your salad today!’, so I’ll definitely share recipes. We get together on weekends and watch Scandal episodes to prepare for live tweet events with our fans, so I’ve been known to make a huge salad from my garden for everyone. I’ll throw in fun stuff like cucumbers, pomegranates, flaxseeds, pine nuts, lemon juice, and olive oil—that’s what I like to call a “Darby Salad!" Also kale, arugula, and various types of lettuces with herbs, chives, parsley, and dill… I never shy away from herbs! I just get really creative.
 
SHAPE: Is there one guilty pleasure food you’ll never give up?
DS: I’d say peanut butter in general. Never ever! I try to stick to the natural peanut butter, and I have several jars in the cupboard. I’ll put it on oatmeal, rice cakes, chocolate… I just love it.
 
SHAPE: Do you have a celebrity body crush?
DS: Oooh, Jennifer Lawrence for sure! I love that she’s got her feet on the ground and totally rocks it. I love seeing a young woman embrace who she is. She’s so down to earth. I can’t really even separate her strong physique from the personality; she’s just the whole package.
 
SHAPE: Any advice for other women out there on how to be happy and healthy from the inside out?
DS: I think for me, at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day, taking a moment to be really grateful for all the good in my life. And it can be really small things, like something growing in my garden or how nice a neighbor was. When I’m grateful for all the blessings, it puts away all the stress about things not in my control. Things like long hours, aging, pollution, scandals… it helps me create perspective by just focusing on being grateful. Take that moment twice a day with yourself.
 
Check out an all-new season of Scandal on ABC, premiering Thursday, October 3 at 10/9c.
 
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