Judy Smith, one of the top crisis managers in Washington, D.C. joined Roland Martin on the set of Washington Watch to discuss her new book, “Good Self, Bad Self” and ABC’s new show “Scandal” starring Kerry Washington.
MR. MARTIN: Welcome back to “Washington Watch.”
There’s a new show on ABC primetime featuring that rare thing on network television, a Black woman as the lead character, and it was created by the same person who brought us “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.” African-American writer and executive producer Shonda Rhimes. Played by Kerry Washington, the show “Scandal” is based on Judy Smith, one of the top crisis managers in Washington, D.C. She’s here with me in the studio, and we’ll talk with her after we take a look at a clip from next week’s show – “Scandal.”
MR. MARTIN: All right. And when you see “the gladiator in a suit,” do you sit there and say, “Oh, yeah, that’s me. That’s exactly” –
MS. JUDY SMITH: [Chuckles.]
MR. MARTIN: — “how I did it”?
MS. SMITH: Well, you know, I always say, Roland, that Shonda Rhimes has done this fantastic job at taking the crisis world that we live in and really dramatizing for television. She’s done a – she does a wonderful job, and Kerry Washington is just awesome in it. I couldn’t find a – a better person.
MR. MARTIN: But the – the real crisis world – I mean that’s – that’s no joke in terms of when you have to deal with the late-night phone calls –
MS. SMITH: Right.
MR. MARTIN: — dealing with trying to hide from the press. When you’re sitting there, and Gov. Terry Sanford in South Carolina comes back after kickin’ it with his Argentinian sexpot.
MS. SMITH: [Chuckles.] You’re so – [crosstalk].
MR. MARTIN: Are – are you sitting there, going, “Hm-m-m. Let’s see. This is how I think I probably would handle this,” or, “I wonder what his folks are thinking”? So, when news happens, are you also thinking that way just –
MS. SMITH: Oh –
MR. MARTIN: — naturally?
MS. SMITH: — constantly. All the time. It’s one of those sort of sick brains that I have, that I’m like, “Oh, my God! I wonder what they’re gonna say and how they’re gonna say it – and who’s gonna say it, and when.”
And TV is even worse. You know, I could be watching TV, and something’s unfolding. And you’re looking at it, and you’re analyzing and saying, “Oh, no. He should be over here,” and it’s –
MR. MARTIN: [Chuckles.]
MS. SMITH: — compulsive, type A behavior on my part.
MR. MARTIN: Now, you’re busy, of course, promoting the show, but also a new book. Tell us about it.
MS. SMITH: Yeah. It’s – the book is called “Good Self, Bad Self.” And what it is [is] it really takes my 25 years of crisis experience and put[s] it in a book, really, to provide everyday people with tools to try to help navigate, you know, the stress and crisis in – in their lives.
MR. MARTIN: And that’s real because, again, the people don’t have the luxury of having to call a crisis expert –
MS. SMITH: That’s right.
MR. MARTIN: — but they also have issues handling those many [crises] that take place in their lives.
MS. SMITH: That’s right. And it’s important. You know, it really looks at some of the core traits that we think that cause crisis, whether it’s ego, ambition, denial, fear, and those kinds of, really, traits that really lead to crisis. And so what I – you’re right. I mean what I try to do is to really use that insight that, sort of, powerful people have, and the rich and famous that usually, you know, hire me for services, and really try to provide something for everyday people –
MR. MARTIN: How do –
MS. SMITH: — [crosstalk].
MR. MARTIN: — deal with when you – when you’re dealing with folks who’re standing on conviction and truth, and they are in a situation where they’re – folks are coming at them –
MS. SMITH: Right.
MR. MARTIN: — and they make it perfectly clear, “Look. This is where I stand,” and they’re not going to back down from it; but you’re saying, “Look. But the se-” – “the scenario calls for you to have to sort of wiggle this thing” – or, “wiggle your way out of this thing”?
MS. SMITH: Right. I think, for – for each person that are – that’s in a crisis, I mean there’s sort of a process that we go through.
MR. MARTIN: And is it –
MS. SMITH: I think –
MR. MARTIN: — harder for politicians?
MS. SMITH: — yeah. No, absolutely. Absolutely, but I think, really, at the end of the day, you have to stand where you believe you need to stand and let everybody else – whether it’s a legal situation, or a communications situation – deal with that. You know, usually when you’re in a crisis, the kind of things that we really talk to clients about is, you know, “Tell the truth. You[’ve] got to face into the facts.” You’ve got to know the facts. It’s not the sort of selective facts. It’s the facts of how they truly are and not what you want them to be. And then another key thing, really, is if you screw up, if you made a mistake, you need to apologize for it.
MR. MARTIN: Okay. All right. The name of the book again?
MS. SMITH: Good Self, Bad Self, and the name of the company is Smith & Co.
MR. MARTIN: All right.
MS. SMITH: Use this.
MR. MARTIN: Yes[?] – got to. All right. Judy, we appreciate it. Thanks a bunch.
MS. SMITH: Thanks a lot for having me, Roland.
MR. MARTIN: All right. I look forward –
MS. SMITH: Thanks.
MR. MARTIN: — to more of the show.
And, ABC, pick it up for the full season.