Debra Birnbaum Debra Birnbaum

The White House briefing room is buzzing. A scandal is brewing — when isn't one on Scandal? — and the ever-ravenous press corps is waiting for President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) to make his entrance.  

It's just like any other day on the set...except I was sitting in the second row. Why? A few real reporters were invited to play, well, reporters, and we were granted access for a doozy. The president was finally going to talk to the press about the rumors of his affair with our favorite fixer.

But before I got to grill the president, I had to pass inspection with the wardrobe team. My editor-in-chief business suit and professional pumps were begrudgingly approved, though costume designer Lyn Paolo wasn't thrilled with my de rigueur New York black. My mop of long, messy curls, however, was deemed a problem. "We're going to have to do something about this," said hairstylist Roberto Rangel as he ushered me into the makeup trailer.

I found myself next to Olivia Pope herself, Kerry Washington, who couldn't resist snapping a photo of me as my curls were tamed into a D.C.-friendly bun.

When they spotted us waiting to shoot our scene, the cast did double takes. "It's so funny you guys are here," said Goldwyn as he rehearsed his lines. Bellamy Young (First Lady Mellie Grant) tweeted a photo of us. Guillermo Diaz (Huck) said hello but didn't chat for long. "I have an intense scene today," he explained apologetically. What else is new?

Our first scene called for us to hurl rapid-fire questions at the president as he entered the press room. "Are you having an affair?" "How long did it last?" "Did the First Lady know?"

It was hard to keep a straight face — and harder still for Goldwyn, who ended every take with a joke. "You guys are tough," he mock-whined. "I don't want to be president anymore."

Then we had to sit quietly, scribbling in our notebooks, as Goldwyn delivered his speech, which — in classic Shonda Rhimes fashion — included a shocking twist. When we heard it, the real reporters all gasped. After the taping, the only scoop I could get out of Goldwyn was, "It's not what you think."

We'd been kidding around all afternoon, but the mood in the room shifted noticeably as he delivered Fitz's emotional plea for privacy: "I had hoped to avoid discussing my private life in such a public forum, but it's clear to me that the business of this country can't continue."

Take after take, Goldwyn nailed it, locking eyes with us. "Can I please go now?!" he pleaded. Finally, after the scene was shot from every conceivable angle, we wrapped. Relieved — and spent — Goldwyn threatened to make us join the White House Press Corps permanently.

Count me in — minus the bun, that is.

Scandal airs Thursdays at 10/9c on ABC.

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