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Article Taken From The Washington Post
December 9 at 6:00 am
Judy Smith walked into a New York bank last week wearing a black suit and her signature white overcoat. A woman standing next to her gave an approving once-over and said, “Oooohhhh, that looks like an Olivia Pope coat.” Then she paused and took a second look at Smith: “Oh my God. It’s you!”
The intensely private crisis manager has gone from the real-life inspiration for the hit show “Scandal” to a star in her own right – and is now almost as recognizable as her on-screen doppelgänger Kerry Washington. Devoted fans crowded into Howard University’s television studio Thursday night for a live, hour-long interview with Smith and host Rock Newman and signing of her self-help book, “Good Self, Bad Self.”
“I feel very grateful,” she told us. “If I can, for whatever reason, inspire and motivate people, that’s a good thing.”
It’s quite a turnaround for Smith, 55, who became America’s best-known corporate fixer by staying out of the spotlight while helping Clarence Thomas, Monica Lewinsky, Michael Vick and Paula Deen (although she never, ever talks about her clients.) “Scandal” creator Shonda Rhimes was so taken by Smith that she built a hit show around her life.
Now the glamorous Washington native is celebrity herself, although she dismissed any diva tendencies. In her interview with Newman, she emphasized – over and over – that her success was a result of the “consistent hard work and focus” she learned growing up in Northeast D.C. After Catholic school (“I remember thinking that when I got older, I would never wear plaid.”), she went on to Boston University and then law school at American University. Blending law and communication, she founded Smith & Company, which eventually led to “Scandal.”