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Smith, Parker say women leaders need balance

By Kalin Thomas Contributing Writer | 5/31/2013, 6 a.m.
Judy Smith, the crisis management guru and real-life inspiration behind the uber popular TV series “Scandal”, recently received a Legacy ...
Judy Smith, the crisis management guru and real-life inspiration for ABC hit show "Scandal," and Actress Nicole Ari Parker of Showtime's famed TV series "Soul Food" receive honors at Spelman College.

Judy Smith, the crisis management guru and real-life inspiration behind the uber popular TV series “Scandal”, recently received a Legacy of Leadership Award from Spelman College as part of its annual Women of Color Leadership Conference

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With so many “Scandal” fans in the audience, Smith had to wait for the cheers and applause to die down before she said to much laughter, “To the woman who tried to bribe me about what’s going to happen in the ‘Scandal’ finale … it wasn’t enough money for me.”

Then on a more serious note she added, “I really appreciate your support in showing up for me by showing up for the show…Part of being a leader is showing up, leading the way and supporting one another.”

On the leadership of “Scandal” character, Olive Pope, Smith said, “It was important for me that she have a degree of strength, a level of confidence, be at the top of her game and not be afraid to show that.”

Actress Nicole Ari Parker, of the TV series “Soul Food” fame, was also a leadership honoree – yet a reluctant one.

“I’ve been called Boris Kidjoe’s wife, a mom, an actress, but I’ve never been called a leader. And I had to sit back and think about why I’m included in this group,” said Parker.

She then noted that her new hair-care product was developed in the spirit of service.

“I really was just trying to solve a problem. And it tapped into something much deeper than that: our health, our well-being, our self-love, our ability to care for the people we love. And the ability to lead was touching on all those points. So I am honored and I’m going to stand in my power from what you’ve given me today,” Parker said.

Parker and Smith highlighted the two-day conference with the theme, “Strategic Leadership: Building Wealth, Entrepreneurship and Paying it Forward.”

The event, also focused on general health concerns.

“I want the attendees to walk away knowing that health is wealth,” said Spelman president, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum.

The running theme in the health workshops was finding balance in your life – a challenge for many African American women.

In her high-powered career as a crisis management expert, Smith has shepherded many high-profile personalities through scandals, including: Monica Lewinsky, Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry and the Los Angeles riots after the Rodney King verdict.

Yet she said her priorities are her kids.

“I remember when I was in Saudi Arabia with Barbara Walters. And while she was talking to the King and I was on the phone trying to handle the fact that I’d forgotten I was in charge of snack day for my child’s basketball team,” laughed Smith.

Parker added with a laugh, “And the other mothers are relentless if you don’t show up with those snacks!”

In Parker’s workshop, “Strive to Thrive,” she partnered with Dr. Brenda Wade of Heartline Productions to give tips on balancing the mind, body and spirit.