Kerry Washington may play a badass crisis management expert to the political elite in ABC’s Scandal, but she’s even more impressive in real life.

Born in 1977 in the Bronx, Washington discovered her passion for acting at an early age, joining a youth theater group and acting in plays, according to IMDb. From there she went on to graduate from George Washington University with a degree in theater; she also studied at the prestigious Michael Howard Studios in New York City.

In 2014, she was even named one of Time magazines “100 Most Influential People in the World,” and was nominated for an Emmy award for her role on Scandal. Today, she’s one the most successful and talented women in Hollywood.

Here are 13 head-turning photos of Washington.