theGrio’s 100: Judy Smith, the inspiration behind ‘Scandal’

Judy Smith is one of the nation's top crisis managers and is the basis for the new ABC TV drama 'Scandal' on March 21, 2012 in Washington, DC (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Judy Smith is one of the nation's top crisis managers and is the basis for the new ABC TV drama 'Scandal' on March 21, 2012 in Washington, DC (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Who is Judy Smith?

A longtime crisis communications consultant in Washington, Judy Smith, became a huge star last year because of the ABC hit show Scandal, which cast Kerry Washington as a character named Olivia Pope, based on Smith.

Why is she on theGrio’s 100?

Even before Scandal aired, Smith, 54, played a powerful but largely-secret role in Washington. A lawyer, Smith worked as an assistant United States attorney before shifting to communications and crisis management. She was deputy press secretary for George H.W. Bush before leaving the White House and later started her own firm, called Smith and Co. In this role, Smith has dubbed herself “America’s #1 Crisis Management Expert.”

She has in the past advised figures such as Monica Lewinsky and  Michael Vick, and for some time last year was aiding General David Petraeus.  She counsels her clients on how to handle the intense glare that comes with controversies and when and how to explain their conduct.

What’s next for Smith?

Washington constantly has scandals and people who need help resolving them, so Smith is likely to remain on the scene.

“I like to believe in the good in people. But we’re all going to screw up from time to time. It just happens. It really is how our best growth occurs. A lot of times, the flip side of a crisis can be an opportunity,” she told Washingtonian earlier this year.