In just three weeks of airing, ABC’s Scandal has become the guilty pleasure of black women all over America. You can’t even think about logging into Twitter at 10pm on Thursday without your timeline blowin’ up with live-tweets and spoilers. The runaway success of the show means a lot to us. It’s steady work for an actress we love, a complex representation of a black woman on mainstream TV, and it’s a bit historic. It’s the first Big Three network show with a black showrunner and a black star. But ever since we met Olivia Pope, I’ve been wondering how much we identify with her. She’s intense, aggressive, and unwilling to show “weakness.” But she’s also charismatic and, for the most part, well-liked–a tough feat to pull off. Is this you? Let’s find out.
1. When someone challenges your authority, how do you handle it?
a. I shut the opponent allll the way down. Unless I’m actually wrong. Which is rare. But I can admit when I’m wrong.
b. I second-guess myself–but not for long. I go over my facts, make sure they back me up, and proceed with my initial plan.
c. I ask how the challenger she would handle the same situation.
2. How do you dress for work?
a. High-end designer pant suits. If the suit has a skirt, the length is above the knee but no more than 1.5 inches.
b. Flowery dresses and flirty skirts. Or slacks and fun blouses in bold colors.
c. I live for Casual Fridays.
3. Which of the following best describes your type?
a. My ideal man has to be even more powerful than I am. And I’m the epitome of powerful, which rules most men out. Let’s just say I date the 1%. Only emotionally (or otherwise) unavailable world leaders for me.
b. I like a guy who’s my subordinate: less formally educated, less ambitious, less ambitious. It makes me feel more in control.
c. I don’t really have a type. I date whoever I think I could love.
4. Your closest confidantes are ______.
a. your male coworkers; they’re who you wind spending all your time with, anyway.
b. one or two close family members.
c. your girls! You’re nothing without your sisterly community.
5. Which of the following represents your leadership style?
a. I value my coworkers’ input, but in the end, my word is law.
b. I prize a collaborative work environment; I won’t move forward unless a real consensus is reached.
c. I’m fine letting my supervisors make final decisions.
6. How likely are you to cry in front of others?
a. If you see me crying in public, feel free to call an ambulance. I am no longer in control of my faculties.
b. I’m not comfortable with it, but sometimes, it’s unavoidable.
c. Tears are nothing to be ashamed of!
Mostly a.’s: You’re an Olivia Pope! For better or worse, you prize the public appearance of control and authority more than the actual feeling of either. It’s important to you that you’re seen as indomitable, which means any uncertainty you feel has to be carefully hidden. People respect you; you’ve earned it—but sometimes that feels like a hollow victory. You can’t let your guard down with anyone and you’re drawn to emotionally detached and/or noncommittal mean.
Advice: Vulnerability is not weakness. And the appearance of strength can be overrated—especially if you’re feeling anything but strong. Let at least one person in—and make sure he isn’t married. Or the president.
Mostly b.’s: You’re a solid, self-possessed individual, but you’re no Olivia Pope—and that’s probably for the best. (Heavy lays the head that wears that crown.) You prize balance above all; there’s a time for work and a time for relaxation. You understand the difference. You’re equally comfortable taking a leadership role or playing the background.
Advice: In the immortal words of Sister Erykah, “Don’t you worry. Keep your balance.” Remember ambition is important, but it should never cost you your wellness or sanity.
Mostly c.’s: Look, we’re not saying you’re an underachiever. You aren’t. But you have very little interest in leading a crowd in a chorus of a song, let alone leading a corporation of a country. It’s cool. This just means you value your personal life (family, friends, lovers) above your professional one. You see work as a means to an end and have no problem following a leader. Vulnerability isn’t your enemy and you often encourage it in others.
Advice: Remember that even worker bees have voices. Be assertive, even if you’re intimidated. It’s the only way to keep the Olivia Popes of the world from bulldozing you.