After a very rough year, actor Columbus Short addressed his struggles with drug abuse, his firing from ABC’s hit show Scandal with Access Hollywood Live.
“I’ll be candid: I was struggling with drugs. I had a lot on my plate, and you know, I was using unhealthy ways to kind of self-medicate and deal with a lot of heavy duty stuff in my life… I was doing cocaine and drinking a lot, and trying to balance a 16-hour work schedule a day, and a family, and I just lost myself back then.”
Columbus was charged with misdemeanor spousal battery, and his wife, Tanee McCall-Short, later filed for divorce. In March, he was arrested on another battery charge after brawling with a fellow patron in a restaurant.
One month later, he confirmed his exit from Scandal.
Columbus confessed that show creator Shonda Rhimes and his castmates knew of his drug problems, and attempted to help him. “And if we’re going to be fully transparent, they protected me and they held me down. And that was one of the real reasons – they just wanted me to get my stuff together. Sometimes the bottom has to be dropped out for you to really get it. So I moved to Atlanta. I’ve been living there for the last five months, five-and-a-half months, and it’s just been great. It’s been life-changing. I was going through a lot, going through a lot in my marriage, I had a lot of loss, tragic loss, so it’s tough. Last year, one of my best friends died, he killed himself, Lee Thompson Young, and that kind of started a spiral. I found out when I was on set, and it really just, it took my legs out from under me. I think when anybody’s dealing with drugs or alcohol, you need to change your environment, period. Persons, places, things, you need to get out of whatever the comfort – it was accessible to me. Come on – I’m on the number one show on television, anything I wanted I could get it, but that’s deadly, you know what I mean? So it was about, how do I change my life?”
Lately, he has been focusing on his music and hopes to return to Scandal. His character was buried in the first episode of season four, although no body was seen. “I had to move, and my therapy really was my album. Working on my album changed my life. Music changes things, and that is a fact. And, you know, writing it out. And I have a lot of crappy songs that I wrote, that are just like me ranting, and then I have great [ones], and I put together a great EP with the team, [and] that’s how I got through this. I’m really ready to get back to work. As far as Shonda’s shows, I would love nothing more to go back to ‘Scandal.’ It’s my family.”
— Scandal (@ScandalRW) May 2, 2013