You will be redirected back to your article in seconds
Back to IndieWire

Real-Life Inspiration For Shonda Rhimes’ “Scandal” Emphasizes It’s A Fictional Dramatization Of Her Life (Spoilers)

Real-Life Inspiration For Shonda Rhimes' "Scandal" Emphasizes It's A Fictional Dramatization Of Her Life (Spoilers)

This might be a mild SPOILER, as I don’t believe we’ve known this specific fact about the series’ plotline has been revealed in all the marketing materials we’ve posted thus far… so you’ve been warned upfront… 

I was reading THIS USA Today profile of the new Shonda Rhimes series (Scandal) and the real-life woman the character Kerry Washington plays is based on (Judy Smith is her name), in which Smith hopes to impress on audiences the fact that the characterization of her in the upcoming ABC drama is fiction, and doesn’t reflect her reality.

Makes sense… I can see how audiences might watch the series and readily believe that what they see on screen happened in real life, since the series is based on the life of a real living person.

Before I go any further, a quick recap…

As already reported on this site, the series is based on the life of real-life Washington-based PR guru Judy Smith – former White House press aide under President George H. Bush, who also counseled Monica Lewinsky, Michael Vick, Senator Larry Craig, worked on the prosecution of former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court hearings, the Chandra Levy investigation and the Enron Congressional inquiry.

Kerry Washington stars as Judy Smith (who’ll be known as Olivia Price in the series).

The official full synopsis reads:

From the creator and executive producers of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” comes a drama revolving around the life and work of a professional crisis manager and her dysfunctional staff. A former media relations consultant to the President, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) dedicates her life to protecting and defending the public images of our nation’s elite. After leaving the White House, the power consultant opened her own firm, hoping to start a new chapter — both professionally and personally — but she can’t seem to completely cut ties with her past. Slowly it becomes apparent that her staff, who specialize in fixing the lives of other people, can’t quite fix the ones closest at hand — their own.

And back to the USA Today profile… in it, it’s revealed that in the pilot episode, Washington’s Olivia Pope (aka Judy Smith) is caught up in a sex scandal involving the president who’s mentioned in the synop; likely a Monica Lewinsky-type scandal (which she was involved with in real life). But one source of added conflict is that Washington’s Olivia Pope (aka Judy Smith) is also sleeping with the president!

So did the real-life Judy Smith sleep with any of the real-life presidents she had any PR dealings with? Of course not; and, although she says she’s not too worried about audiences believing that everything depicted in the TV character’s life is a true reflection of hers, stating, “What they’ve done is done a terrific job in dramatizing that in a very dramatic setting… But anybody who knows me and knows my 25 years of work in crisis management knows that I did not sleep with the president.

Sure you didn’t… riiigggght! I’m kidding folks… just kidding :)

In the photo above are Washington and Smith by the way.

So, it’s just TV guys; it’s not Judy Smith’s life you’re watching. I can only wonder what Rhimes and company have cooked up for Washington/Pope/Smith, because I get the feeling Judy Smith is about to become an even more public figure, and will likely be asked similar questions as the series progresses from one episode to the next.

As an aside, when I first heard about this new series last year, and read up on Smith, the first actress that came to me was Angela Bassett, not Kerry Washington. But I’m looking forward to seeing it anyway.

The new show will debut on April 5 (a Thursday) at 10PM.

Watch a preview trailer below if you haven’t seen it yet:

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged