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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Inspiration behind ‘Scandal’ tells her story

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Photo by Photo by Madeline Ramos

Judy Smith spoke at “It’s Handled: Stories from a Fixer” Feb. 8 in Rudder Auditorium. 

While working in the White House during the George H. W. Bush administration, Judy Smith was there during major historical events like the Iran-Contra investigation, the 1991 Gulf War and more. On Thursday, Feb. 8, Smith took the stage at Rudder Auditorium to share her story.
It’s Handled: Stories from a Fixer was a Q&A session hosted by MSC Bethancourt and was intended to give insight into Smith’s high-paced and exciting journey into her career as a crisis management expert. Smith’s career life parallels the life of the Olivia Pope, the main character on ABC’s drama Scandal.
Judy Smith was a press aide in the Bush administration, and after leaving the White House, she started her own business, later becoming a crisis management expert. Her experience working in Washington, D.C. during notable historical events of recent times, such as those listed above as well as the President Clinton scandal involving Monica Lewinsky and the Sony Corporation hacking crisis, provides close-up insight into what goes down at the White House. Later, Smith helped to write the original script for Scandal.
“We thought she could bring a very interesting perspective,” said Morgan McMaster, MSC Bethancourt Committee chair and, political science and economics junior. “She’s been involved in some of the most pertinent events in our nation’s history.”
Smith talked about what was important to her when her life was being translated by screenwriters into something people would watch.
“There are many things that are alike and different,” Smith said. “Different — I didn’t look as great as Kerry Washington does every day on set. And I definitely didn’t sleep with the president.”
While the persona of Olivia Pope was being developed, Smith said she had made clear some requirements for the character as a black, female lead.
“It was really important to me that the woman representing me had to be strong, had to be smart, and had to be good at her job and unapologetic about it,” Smith said. “I’ve never been shy about saying what I think and what I think needs to be done.”
Throughout her experience in real life, and as portrayed in the hit-TV show, Smith said she encourages the audience to push themselves beyond their limits.
“You should expect nothing but the best from yourself,” Smith declared. “We can always try to be better than we are.”
Before the talk began, students, such as education freshman Emily Nolan, waited outside the auditorium doors up to 30 minutes before the event, determined to get a good seat.
“I’m a fan of Scandal, and [I was] excited to hear from the person who inspired the character of Olivia Pope,” Nolan said.
According to international studies freshman Alysabeth Lipman, Smith’s hard work and dedication to her career allows many college students to look up to her.
“I thought she was really interesting and inspirational,” Lipman said. “It made me feel like I could accomplish my dreams. I know that sounds silly, but it reminded me that no matter where you start you can achieve your goals with hard work.”

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