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Scandal Inspiration Judy Smith Emphasizes Communication to BC Students

Photo of Judy Smith

by Andrew Peters ’15

Judy Smith, leading crisis communication strategist and inspiration for ABC’s hit television show Scandal, motivated BC students to prepare themselves for the future on Monday, Sept. 16, in Cole Hall.

“There is power in being yourself,” stated Smith. Although she completed her undergraduate degree in communications at Boston University, Smith did not know what she wanted to do next. After graduating from American University Washington College of Law, Smith acquired a job with a nonprofit organization. Since the organization was minuscule, Smith learned many skills including creating press releases and strategic planning. “You have to be a good writer. You have to be a good communicator.” Smith emphasized to students.

Many of Smith’s clients are at the worst parts of their lives, yet they have to lay out all of their lives for her to see. Through her communication, Smith gains her clients’ trust, crucial in crisis management. “[Communication] is a people skill,” stressed Smith.

Smith reminded students to “be prepared when opportunity presents itself.” Not long after graduating, Smith became a summer associate at Rogers and Wells, but before she started, the government took interest in her and offered her a job. As she became more influential in Washington, Smith took on higher profile cases. Marlin Fitzwater, press secretary for President George H. W. Bush, impressed by Smith’s expertise in the Marion Barry case, showed interest in her, and soon after, Smith found herself as the deputy press secretary for the president. After her period as deputy press secretary, Smith returned to the private sector.

Currently, in addition to representing Congressman Jesse Jackson and celebrity chef Paula Deen, Smith works closely with the creator and executive producer of Scandal, Shonda Rhimes, to get the hit show just right. Smith is on set often and collaborates with actress Kerry Washington to add realism to the character of Olivia Pope.

Smith took opportunities as they came and made herself into a force with which to be reckoned. Smith challenged students not only to “figure out what you like,” but to be yourself.

Media Contacts

Charles Culbertson
Director of Media Relations and
Editor of Bridgewater Magazine
Office: 540-828-5720
Mobile: 540-255-1831

Mary Kay Heatwole
Media Relations Assistant
Office: 540-828-5486

Abbie Parkhurst
Executive Director of Marketing & Communications/College Spokeswoman
Office: 540-828-5782
Mobile: 540-294-1441