Get Scandalous: Five Lessons We Can Learn From Olivia Pope And “Scandal”

October 18, 2012  |  

The second season of Shonda Rhimes’s latest hit show Scandal is generating all kinds of buzz, and that’s largely because of Kerry Washington’s excellent portrayal of the commanding and capable crisis manager, Olivia Pope. Every Thursday, we watch in awe as our beloved heroine make moves and power plays among Washington’s elite. She’s smart, she’s fierce and she’s always impeccably dressed. We love her. We want to be like her. Here is a list of valuable lessons we can learn from Olivia Pope.

Keep Your Friends (and Enemies) Close.

It long has been said that you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer. No doubt Olivia Pope has mastered that. Many times she finds herself on the one side of a scandal, while U.S. Attorney David Rosen is on the other side determined to bring about justice. Olivia is not afraid to convince him to call off the dog, or use her influence to through David off the trail. However, Olivia knows she has to keep him close so she will always gets what she needs.

Say It and Mean It.

The way Olivia Pope seems so sure of herself, you could hardly imagine her fretting over what she’s going to wear every day. She does everything on purpose. When Olivia negotiates with her clients, she doesn’t waiver, she puts reality on the table and tells them what she’s going to do. Olivia Pope takes her promises, threats and decisions seriously, and so does everyone around her. Even when Fitz begged Olivia to keep their affair going, when she hung up the phone, he got the message loud and clear. The next time you find yourself in a situation when you have to make a difficult decision, be like Olivia. Say it, mean it and own it.

Don’t Tip Your Hand…Unless It’s Absolutely Necessary.

Remember when Olivia Pope hired Quinn Perkins? No one knew why, not even Harrison who was sent out to “recruit” her. Even toward the end of Season 1 when Quinn’s real identity was called in to question, Olivia didn’t reveal the truth. She kept Quinn’s secret safe until she felt it was absolutely necessary to tell the rest of the associates. Olivia shows us how we don’t have to put our business out there, but when we do, it should be for a very good reason.

Lead, Don’t Follow.

It’s easy to imagine a young Olivia Pope with pigtails holding things down as the line leader in grade school. She radiates “born leader” in everything she does. We watch her week after week breeze into her office giving rapid-fire orders to her associates, setting the day’s agenda and squashing any opposition. Leaders blaze their own paths. Leaders communicate their vision with clarity. Leaders don’t allow anyone to take over and run things, as they always maintain control of a situation. Olivia Pope as a crisis manager cannot afford to follow the leader. If we channel our inner Olivia Popes, neither will we.

Look the Part.

From the flawless hair to the jewelry to the fabulous jackets, power suits and handbags, Olivia always looks like she means business. When Olivia Pope walks into a room, everyone takes her seriously. Sure we love her clothes and her hair, but for Olivia Pope it’s part of her brand. She can go from the office to the courtroom to the White House, turning heads along the way. If you want the people around you to take you more seriously, take a page from Olivia Pope’s style manual.

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  • Meyaka

    Great article.

  • JaneDoe

    Dope chick right here. Love Kerry. Have yet to see they show though


    I dont watch Scandal, but what makes me not want to see is the previews showing Kerry in bed with a white man!! Can we at least show a black woman loving a black man?!?!?

    • Shany

      That couldn’t happen because ppl would have made a comparison with President Obama (diffamation). But anyway, I don’t see where is the problem.

      • Nenah

        First of all, what is diffamation? Second of all, why are there white couples but when it comes to blacks, they’re always split up? That’s putting it in black kids’ heads that black women and black men do not belong together. Third of all, she could be with a black man who is not married and is in a position of power. That does exist.

        • Yvette

          Are you serious? Do you realize what you are saying? White couples split up just as much as black couples. You are the person putting that foolishness in black kids heads. This blog is about fictional characters on a TV show. It ain’t that deep.

          • Nenah

            When I said split up, I meant that you will see a black man with a white woman or a black woman wiith a white man.
            But often black women are portrayed as single poor mothers. If a black man isn’t a rapper or a thug, he usually is shown with a white or other woman on his arm. So I go back to what is wrong with seeing 2 blacks together? And while she could date a black man who doesn’t have power, that character would date a powerful man.

        • Merriegirl

          I wouldn’t find the plot line as interesting if she was in love with a black man.

        • Shany

          1)diffamation= libel. Like they don’t want any comparison with President Obama since they are talking about foreign politics, affairs…Believe it or not some ppl can think fiction is reality 2) Non sense. Totally agree with Yvette. 3) I never said that doesn’t exist. And once again, they couldn’t use a black president for obvious reasons (see above).

          • Nenah

            Girl, the word is defamation! I can’t even take you serious. Bye!

            • Shany

              @Nenah. I’m French, my native tongue is French. “diffamation” is a french word. I’m a lawyer and I use it everyday so it come naturally. How many languages can you speak? We’re talking about something and because I don’t agree with you you tried to attack me on my grammar. And BTW during your “grammar correction” you said serious when you should have seriously. Not that I’d go down to your level and point that out. At the end of the day, what I was saying makes sense. They don’t want to be in trouble and to put Obama in trouble.

    • Nenah

      Real talk! I watch the show and her loving this married white man is her major weakness. I wish she could be a strong no nonsense woman who didn’t play that ish in business or pleasure!

    • Yvette

      This is one of the reasons racism in America will never die. Why does it matter that the actor playing the President is white? That part of the story is simply about the fact that she is having an affair with the President of the United States not that he is white.

    • Merriegirl

      Black men can date as many white women as they want but black women can’t have one relationship out side of our race.

      • NONEYA

        We sure can but why a married one??? It goes back to slavery, she is basically is belly warmer!!

        • Yvette

          She is willingly having an affair. During the time of slavery it was rape…if a black woman did not let massa do his do she got a beating or worse…killed. So this has NOTHING to do with slavery. You are really reaching.

  • me

    where is “Stay away from married men”????????????

    • Yvette

      It’s where it should be…..waiting on someone to write an article about it. This article is about how her character handles herself in her professional life not her personal life.

    • me2

      Grow up! I’m married and of course I don’t want anyone to touch my husband but everything in life isn’t easy. Relationships are difficult and complicated…

  • Reese

    This is probably my favorite show out right now. Not only because it has a black woman in a non-stereotypical role but also the plot lines and the pace of the show are amazing. I definitely agree with the lessons that can be taken away from the show. It reads like the 48 Laws of Power.

    • Well, the role is, arguably, stereotypical, but not in the usual way.

      • Yvette

        How is it stereotypical?

    • Yvette

      I agree. This is by far my favorite show right now. Kuddos to ABC for backing Shonda Rimes’ decision in casting a woman of color to play the lead character.