Meet Judy Smith The First Black Woman To Lead A White House Press Briefing


February 2, 2021

Black girl magic, no scandal!

Meet Judy Smith, the real life “Olivia Pope” and the first Black woman to lead a White House press briefing.

Recently, the Biden-Harris team unveiled the most diverse administration in history, featuring an all-woman White House communications staff, several of them being women of color. While it is a historical moment for sure, this won’t be the first time a Black woman has headed up the White House press room. According to The Yucatan Times, in 1991, Judy Smith made history as the first Black woman to lead a press briefing, serving as deputy press secretary for former President George H.W. Bush.


Smith segued her time in The White House into a successful career as a crisis management expert. Her work as CEO of Smith & Company forged a trail for other Black women in the White House and in the communications sector, even inspiring a hit television show, Scandal, with actress Kerry Washington portraying Smith as crisis manager “Olivia Pope.” 

White House briefings were not televised heavily until the mid-90s, leading many people to not know who Smith was. Also, Bush didn’t particularly spend a lot of time on his media relations and his White House staff weren’t very visible. Nonetheless, Smith’s legacy lives on and has now made room for a communications staff full of women of color, something the trailblazer said she would’ve never guessed. 

“I didn’t think about it at the time…What I thought about at the time was that going to work in the White House was…just such an incredible opportunity…It was a dream come true. I didn’t understand the significance of what that was, getting up briefing at that moment, seeing a Black woman behind the podium, speaking on behalf of the president to the American public,” Smith told reporters.


Thank you for all the work you’ve done Ms. Smith! Because of you, we can.

Photo Courtesy of The New York Times

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join the BOTWC newsletter for the latest in news & culture!

By clicking Submit, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Newsletter Signup
Skip to content