Scandal’s Bellamy Young On Veganism, Self-Care & Why Mellie Is Miserable

Bellamy Young teaches us how to channel a bit of the First Lady's power.

If you’ve been on the politico-emotional roller coaster of the last four seasons of “Scandal,” you know that Bellamy Young, aka Mellie Grant, never had any plans to be a trophy wife. This season, we saw Mellie get the recognition she always seemed to deserve with a Senate campaign – but as always in Shondaland, that doesn’t mean all’s well that end’s well.

Bellamy Young has a hair of a break between filming seasons of Scandal, but she’s using it to step into a new role as defense attorney opposite Lou Diamond Phillips in upcoming film The Night Stalker. Last time Young had some room to breathe, the former Broadway star released an album of favorite cover songs, Far Away So Close, from Ryan Adams’ “My Sweet Carolina” to Pink’s “Beam Me Up.” We chatted with Young about FLOTUS power, her lifelong commitment to veganism, and how she works hard to stay stress-free.

YouBeauty: First of all, I just want to say congratulations and thank you for a phenomenal season of “Scandal.” I’m still reeling from the finale. 

Young: Thank you so much. Oh, my gosh. I appreciate that. I love my job and I had a great time this year. It was a ride…for everybody. I’m fine with Mellie being as miserable as she needs to be. It was gutting, but, you know, if it were happy than nobody would watch.

As FLOTUS, Mellie has been through so many ups and downs, and it’s just so satisfying to see her finally landing in a place of power. Where do you draw from to play her endurance?

I just love her tenacity. I mean, she gets kicked and, you know, knocked off her course. And often she’s her own worst enemy, so often it’s her doing the knocking, but she is resilient in a way that I don’t always have the courage to be. I find that really inspiring and I just love that she has that thousand yard stare, so she knows where she wants to go and she knows what she has to do to get there, but the little, you know, little linebacker knocks that come in the shorter field, she doesn’t let them bother her. I find that amazing and I love that about her.

I noticed that you’ve been a vegan for a very long time – before it was cool.

Yeah! It was cool for me, but it definitely wasn’t cool. It came to me in a very strange way. I was at college, it was sophomore year and I got the baked breast of chicken and they sort of plated it weird. As I lowered it down to my tray, it looked exactly like my mom’s little furry yippy dog when she’d roll over and want you to rub her tummy. That was it. for me

I think veganism has a branding issue, but other than that, it’s a great way to live. I know a lot of people now like to go with “plant-based diet” instead. I guess that makes it a little bit more palatable, but for me it was the answer to a myriad of things that weren’t working in my life. I had terrible cystic acne, no energy at all, I didn’t always digest food perfectly.  And so it’s never been difficult in terms of a row to ho or anything. It’s just always been, um, I’ve just been lucky that my body and my heart were in line.

I know you’re also speaking out about your migraines – have they always been a part of your life? Personally, migraines started for me when I hit puberty and now they flair up when I’m stressed.

Exactly. I’ve had them as long as I can remember – back in North Carolina and all through college. I thought they were just really really bad headaches because nobody spoke to me about what a migraine is. I learned what they were when I got to New York and started taking care of myself in a different way, finally seeing doctors that weren’t my pediatrician. In the 90s, it was still pretty much like, “Oh, migraines. That’s a lady thing. It happens around your time.

Have you gotten them under control now?

It’s been a long road for me trying to figure out self-care rituals that work. I know I have to stay hydrated. I meditate every day, so that keeps me a little more balanced. If I can catch one when it’s coming on, I get in a dark room and sometimes avert disaster. I know things that I can and cannot eat. Even if I can’t get a lot of rest, I need to get good, deep rest. I gauge it by my vision. I start to feel like a little ice pick is going through my left eye then I start to lose my peripheral vision. Once I lose my peripheral vision, I gotta hit my medication. My medication, Treximet, has given me so much freedom. If you don’t have a migraine, you’re worried about getting one or getting over having one. It’s sort of all-consuming.

Any favorite beauty products or necessary part of your routine?

You know what is simple and multi-functional for me, personally, is sweet almond oil. My hair works so hard and if I can sleep overnight with some of that in my hair it helps so much, but it also just in terms of nourishing my body or taking a nice bath, put a little sweet almond oil and maybe some – any kind of aroma therapy, a little essential oils that I want to put in. I find if there’s one thing that I always need to have in the house it’s that. Plus, my cats think it’s delicious. So every time I get myself all lathered up in it they’re like [lick lick lick].

What are your cat’s names?

Sadie and Max and Button. And a dog named Bean. Sadie worst of all. She will lick my arm dry if I don’t have on a long sleeve shirt.

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