'Scandal' actress Darby Stanchfield talks power grab, upbringing

NEW YORK (WABC) -- "Scandal" fans know her as Abby Whelan, but the-real life person behind the character is nothing like what you see on TV.

Among so many charismatic performers, even opposite one of the most beautiful women on television, Darby Stanchfield has had no trouble making her mark. But it may surprise many to learn that the performer's roots lie very far from Washington's corridors of power.

Abby Whelan is sexy, smart and, up until now, very steady. She's never boring, exactly, just not as scandalous as Olivia Pope and the others.

"Abby's had a real consistent moral compass throughout the series of 'Scandal' for five seasons," Stanchfield said.

So imagine her surprise when the actress learned Abby would stop at nothing to replace Cyrus as the White House chief of staff, vowing to "crush him, destroy him, slit his throat and drink his blood."

"When I got that script, it was like who is this character?" she said. "She's definitely off the rails."

The same cannot be said about the woman who plays her, because for all her glamour, Stanchfield has a very practical side.

She learned self-sufficiency from her dad, a commercial fisherman in Alaska like those on "The Deadliest Catch," and the future star spent her formative years in the same home port where that series is based.

"My mom really raised us," she said. "My dad was gone all the time, so they taught us things, like my sister and I how to change a tire, at a very young age. "

To earn her allowance, young Stanchfield cleaned school buses.

"I grew up a real working-class, hard working, upbringing, and I think that's led into the persistence you have to have as an actor," she said. "Like you just plug away, and you work hard, and you stay consistent. It can pay off."

There can be no doubts about her capabilities, though for the moment Abby seems a bit drunk with power. It's all an act for the actress who plays her, though, as Stanchfield remains as down to earth as before "Scandal" hit so big.
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