ENTERTAINMENT

ABC's 'Scandal' based on real-life crisis handler, Judy Smith

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ABC's new hit show, "Scandal," is about a professional "fixer" who big names in Washington turn to for damage control.

"Scandal," ABC's new hit show, is based on Judy Smith's real-life crisis management job.

The story isn't fictional — the real-life inspiration for the show still lives in the District, and despite working with household names for two decades, she typically stays out of the public eye.

On the show, a fast-paced drama about crisis management in the nation's capitol, Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope. The inspiration for Pope's character comes from a woman named Judy Smith.

Smith is president and CEO of the D.C.-based crisis management and public relations firm Smith and Company.

"It's hard to be invisible now, but I'm still gonna try, but it's hard!" Smiths aid.

Smith grew up in a family of five children in Northeast Washington and has always excelled at crisis management. When she was young, she says, she resolved dodgeball disputes and helped mediate the big breakup of the neighborhood "it" couple.

Smith attended law school at American University and was soon doing crisis management for Marion Barry, George H.W. Bush's White House press office, Monica Lewinsky, and Chandra Levy's parents.

Now Smith is enjoying that "Scandal" has dramatized her world for television, though she says the drama is lost on her family.

"Like any family, they're very proud, but ... it's still the same, 'So what are you making for dinner?' It doesn't change," she said.

"In every crisis, there are opportunities. We all have issues and problems; it's how we navigate them and the lessons we learn from them that count," Smith said.

 

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